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nlfr.T of CommoTi Schools. Hartford . Conn . 31 Dccpmlier 







Reprinted from the AmericaD Journal of Education 


Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin. 




EsTKRKD, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1853, 1)7 


In the Clerk's Office c*" the District Court of Connecticnt. 






The memoirs which compose tiiis volume, were originally 
prepared by the Editor, or at his request, and in some in- 
stances from material furnished by him, for the American 
Journal of Education, to accompany an account of the In- 
stitution, or System of Education, with which the subject 
was connected as founder, benefactor, or teacher. The plan 
necessarily included persons still living; but of them, the me- 
moirs, so far as the editor's wishes were consulted, was con- 
fined to their educational activity — no attempt being made 
to dwell on other departments of their lives or character. 

The selection is made mainly from the first five volumes 
of the Journal. 

This volume will be followed by a second, devoted to Bene- 
factors, and Promoters of Education, Literature, and Science; 
and to both, probably other volumes will be added, from time 
to time, in the hope of supplying an acknowledged deficiency 
in this department of English and American Literature. 

(ghuational lio^raplig. 











Introduction — Educational Biography, 11 

Ezekiel Cheever, 13 

Samuel Johnson, 43 

Caleb Bingham, 53 

Timothy Dwight, 78 

Thomas H. Gallaudet, 97 

Denison Olmsted, 119 

Mrs. Emma Willard, 125 

Samuel Read Hall, 169 

James G. Carter, 182 

Warren Colburn, . 195 

Gideon F. Thayer, 218 

William Russell, 227 

Harvey P. Peet, 232 

William A. Alcott, 249 

William C. Woodbridge, 268 

Walter R. Johnson, 281 

Wilbur Fisk, •. . . 297 

John Kingsbury, 311 

Lowell Mason, 326 

George B. Emerson 333 

Calvin E. Stowe, 344 

Samuel Lewis, 351 

Horace Mann, 365 

Cyrus Peirce, 405 

Nicholas Tillinghast, 439 



Francis Dwight, 457 

David Perkins Page, 465 

William F. Phelps, 473 

John S. Hart, 481 

Frederick A. P. Barnard, 497 


Hail ! tolerant teachers of the race, whose dower 
Of spirit-wealth outweighs the monarchs might, 

Blest be your holy mission ! may it shower 
"Blessings like rain, and bring by human right 
To all our hearts and hearths, love, liberty, and light. 

We propose to devote a portion of our columns from time to time, 
to a series of Biographical Sketches of Eminent Teachers and Educa- 
tors, who in different ages and countries, and under widely varying 
circumstances of religion and government, have labored faithfully and 
successfully in different allutments of the great field of human culture. 
We hope to do something in this way to rescue from unmerited 
neglect and oblivion the names and services of many excellent men 
and women, who have proved themselves benefactors of their race by 
sheding light into the dark recesses of ignorance and by pre-occupy- 
ins: the soil, which would otherwise have been covered wdtli the 
rank growth of vice and crime, with a harvest of those virtues which 
bless, adorn, and purify society. Such men have existed in every 
civilized state in past times. " Such men,'' remarks Lord Brougham, 
"men deserving the glorious title of teachers of mankind, I have found 
laboring conscientiously, though perhaps obscurely, in their blessed voca- 
tion, wherever I have gone. I have found them, and shared their fellow- 
ship, among the daring, the ambitious, the ardent, the indomitably active 
French ; I have found them among the persevering, resolute, industrious 
Swiss ; I have found them among the laborious, the warm-hearted, 
the enthusiastic Germans ; I have found them among the high-minded 
but enslaved Italians; and in our own country, God be thanked, their 
numbers every where abound, and are every day increasing. Their 
calling is high and holy ; their fame is the property of nations ; their 
renown fill the earth in after ages, in proportion as it sounds not far 
off in their own times. Each one of these great teachers of the 
world, possessing his soul in peace, jKjrforms his appointed coiirse, 
awaits in patience the fulfillment of the promises, resting from his 
labors, bequeathes his memory to the generation whom his works 
have blessed, and sleeps under the humble, but not inglorious epi- 
taph, commemorating 'one in whom mankind lost a friend, and no 
man got rid of an enemy !' '' 


AYe cannot estimate too liiglily the services rendered to the civili- 
zation of New England, by her early teachei*s, and especially the 
teachers of her Town Grammar Schools. Among these teachers we 
must include many of her best educated clergymen, who, in towns 
Avhere there was no endowed Free or Grammar School, fitted young 
men of piety and talent for college, and for higher usefulness in church 
and state. To her professional teachers and clergy it is due, that 
schools of even an elementary grade were established and maintained. 
l>at for thera the fires of classical learning, brought here from the 
Public Schools and Universities of England, would have died out, the 
class-rooms of her infant colleges would have been deserted, her 
parishes would have ceased to claim a scholar for their minister, the 
manao-ement of aflairs in town and state would have fallen into 
incompetent hands, and a dartness deeper than that of the surround- 
ing forests would have gathered about the homes of the people. In 
view of the barbarism into which the second and third generations of 
new colonies seem destined to fall, " where schools are not vigorously 
encouraged," we may exclaim with the liev. Dr. Mather — 

" 'Tis Corlet's paios, and Cheever's, -we must own, 
That thou New England, are not Scythia grown. ' 

Let us then hasten to do even tardy justice to these master 
builders and workmen of our popular civilization. In the language 
of President Quincy, when about to review the History of Harvard 
Collejje for a period of two centuries — " While passing down the 
series of succeeding years, as through the interior of some ancient 
temple, v.hich displays on either hand the statues of distinguished 
friends and benefactors, we should stay for a moment in the presence 
of each, doing justice to the humble, illustrating the obscure, placing 
in a true light the modest, and noting rapidly the moral and intel- 
lectual traits which time has spared ; to the end that ingratitude the 
l)roverbial sin of republics, may not attach to the republic of lettere ; 
and that, whoever feeds the lamp of science, however obscurely, how- 
ever scantily, may know, that sooner or later, his name and virtues 
shall be made conspicuous by its light, and throughout all time 
accompany its lustre.'' 

We commence our Educational Biography^as we propose to 
designate the series — with a Sketch, such as we have been able to 
draw up from scanty materials, gleaned from torn and almost illegible 
records of town, and church, and from scattered items in the publica- 
tions, pamphlets, and manuscripts of Historical Societies, Antiqua- 
rians, and Genealogists — of Ezekiel Cheever, the Father of Connecti- 
cut School-masters, the Pioneer, and Patriarch of elementary classi- 
cal culture in New Euirland. 




EzEKiEL Cheever, the son of a linen draper of London, was 
born in that city on the 25th of January, 1614, Of his education and 
life in England, we find no mention ; or any memorial except copies of 
Latin verses,* composed by him in London, between the years 1631 
and 1637, and manuscript dissertations, and letters written in Latin, 
now in the Boston Atli?eneum. The pure Latinity of these per- 
formances, indicate that he enjoyed and improved no ordinary oppor- 
tunities of classical training. He came to this country in 1637, land- 
ing at Boston, but proceeding in the autumn of the same, or the spring 
of the following year, with Theophilus Eaton, Rev. John Davenport, and 
others, to Quinnipiac, where he assisted in planting the colony and 
church of New Haven — his name appearing in the "Plantation 
Covenant," signed in " Mr. Newman's Barn," on the 4th of June, 
1639, among the principal men of the colony. He was also chosen 
one of twelve men out of " the whole number thought fit for the 
foundation work of a church to be gathered," which " elect twelve " 
were charged "to chose seven out of their own number for the seven 
pillars of the church," that the Scripture might be fulfilled " Wisdom 
hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars^ 

From various considerations it is thought that he held the office of 
deacon in the first church of New Haven, from 1644 to 1650, and some- 
times conducted public worship. In May 1647, among other " gross mis- 
carriages," charged upon one " Richard Smoolt, servant to Mrs. Turner," 
— for the aggregate of which he was "severely whipped," was his ' scof- 
fing at the Word of God,' as preached by Mr. Cheevers." He was held 
in such esteem by the " free burgesses," as to be elected one of the 
"Deputies " from New Haven, to the General Court in October 1646. 

He commenced there his career as a schoolmaster in 1638, which he 
continued till 1650, devoting to the work a scholarship and pei-sonal 
character which left their mark for ever on the educational policy of 

* " A Selection from the Poems of Cheever's Manuscripts" appended to an edition of Rev. Dr. 
Mather's Corderr'S Americanus, or Funeral Sermon upon Mr. Ezekiel Cheever, published in 
Boston, by Dutton and Wentworth, 182S. 


New Haven.* His first engagement was in the only school, which 

was opened within the fii-st year of the settlement of the colony, to 

which the " pastor, Mr. Davenport, together with the magistrates," 

were ordered "to consider what yearly allowance is meet to be given. 

to it out of the common stock of the town." In 1641, a second and 

liigher grade of school was established, under Mr. Cheever's charge, 

to which the following order of the town meeting refers : 

" For the better training of youth in this town, that, through God's blessing, 
they may be fitted for public service hereafter, in church or conimonweahh, it is 
ordered that a free school be set up, and the magistrates with the teaching elders 
are entreated to consider what rules and orders are meet to be oba.rved, and 
what allowance may be convenient for the schoolmaster's care and pains, which 
Bhall be paid out of the town's stock." 

By Free Schoolef and Free Grammar School,! as used in this extract, 

*To the bright example of such a teacher, and especially to the early, enlightened, and per. 
Fevering labors of the Rev. John Davenport, the first pastor of the first Church of New Ha- 
ven, and of Theophilus Eaton, the first Governor of the Colony, is New Haven indebted for 
the inauguration of that educational policy which has made it a seat of learning from its first 
settlement for the whole country. The wise forecast and labors of these men contemplated, 
and to some extent realized ; 1. Common Town Schools, where " all their sons may learn to 
read and write, and cast up accounts, and make some entrance into the Latin tongue." 2. A 
Common, or Colony School, with " a schooIma.sfer to teach the three languages, Latin, 
Greek, and Hebrew, so far as shall be necessary to prepare them for the college." 3. A Town 
or County Library. 4. A College for the Colony, " for the education of youth in good litera- 
ture, to fit them for public service in church and commonwealth." The whole was made 
morally certain by the employment of good teachers from the start. After the retirement of 
Mr. Cheever from the school, the records of the Town are full of entries showing the solicitude 
of the Governor and Minister in behalf of the schools and the education of the children and 
youth. Under date of Nov. 8, 1652: " The Governor informs the court that the cause of call- 
ing this meeting is about a schoolmaster," that " he had written a letter to Mr. Bower, who 
as a schoolmaster at Plymouth, and desires to come into these parts to live, and another letter 
about one Rev. Mr. Landson, a scholar, wiio he hears will take that employment upon him," 
—and ''that now Mr. James was come to town, who would teach the boys and girls to read 
and write "— " and there would be need of two schoolmasters— for if a Latin scholmastercome, 
it is found he will be discouraged, if many English scholars come to him." About the same 
date : " The town was informed that there is some motion again on foot concerning the set- 
ting up of a College here at New Haven, which, if attained will in all likelihood, prove very 
beneficial to this place"— "to which no man objected but all seemed willing." At a General 
Court of the Colony, held at Guilford, June 28, 1652, " it was thought [the establishment of a 
college for New Haven Colony] to be too great a charge for us of this jurisdiction to undergo 
alone. But if Connecticut do join, the planters are generally willing to bear their just propor- 
tion for creating and maintaining of acollege there [New Haven]." "At a town meeting, held 
February 7, 1667 ['8], Mn. John Davenport. Senior, came into the meeting, and desired to speak 
eomethingconcerning the [Grammar] school; and first propounded to the town, whether 
they would send their children to the school, to be taught for the fitting them for the service 
of God, in church and commonwealth. If they would, then, tlie grant [made by Mr. D. in 
1660, as Trustee of the Legacy of Gov. Hopkins] formerly made to this town, stands good ; 
but, if not, then it is void : because it attains not the end of the donor. Therefore, he desired 
they would express themselves." Upon which several townsmen declared their purpose 
«• of bringing up one or more of their sons to learning," and as evidence of the sincerity of 
their declaration, and of the former efforts of Gov. Eaton and Mr. Davenport, in favor of 
liberal education, Prof. Kingsley in his Historical Discourse, on the 200th Anniversary of 
the First Settlement of the Town, remarks :— " Of the graduates of Harvard College, from its 
foundation to year 1700 [the founding of Yale College], as many as one in thirty, at least, were 
from the town of New Haven " — with a population, so late as the year 1700, of only five hun. 
dred persons.— S'ee Uarnard's History of Education in Connecticut, 1S53. 

t The first estublishmeiit of the Frek School — or School for the gniluit^us instruction of poor 


and in tlie early records both of towns and the General Court in Conneo" 
ticut and Massachusetts, was not intended the Common or Public School, 

children can be traced back to the early ages of the Cliristian Church. Wherever a missionary 
station was set up, or the Bishops' residence or Sent [cathedra, and hence Cathedral] was fixed, 
tiiere gradually grew up a large ecclesiastical establishment, in which were concentrated the means 
of hospitality for all the clergy, and all the humanizing influences of learning and religion for that 
diocese or district. Along sid« of the Cathedral, and sometimes within the edifice where divine 
worship was celebrated, "a song scole," where poor boys were trained to chant, and the "lecture 
scole," where clerks were taught to read the sacred rituiil, and in due time the ''grammar school" 
when those who were destined for the higher services of church and state were educated according 
to the standard of the times, were successively established. The monasteries were also originally 
seats of learning, as well as places of religious retirement, of hospitality for the aged and infirm, 
and of alms for the poor of the surrounding country. Their cloister schools were the hearth-stones 
of classical education in every country of Europe, and were the germs of the great Universities 
which were encouraged and endowed by learned prelates and beneficient princes for the support and 
exaltation of the Christian faith and the improvement of the libaral arts. But for the endowments 
and the ordinances and recommendations of early synods and councils, these schools might have 
been accessible only to the children of the titled and the wealthy. The council of Lyons in 1215, 
decreed "that in all cathedral churches and others provided with adequate revenues, there should 
be established a school and a teacher by the bishop and chapter, who should teach the clerks and 
poor scholars gratis in grammar, and for this purpose a stipend shall be assigned him ;" and the 
third council of Lateran still earlier ordained — " that opportunity of learning should not be wiUi- 
drawn from the poor, who are without help from patrimonial riches, there shall be in every cathe- 
dral a master to teach both clerks and poor scholars gratis." In the remodelling of the cathedral 
establishments, and the demolition of the monasteries by Henry VIII.,. and his successors, several of 
the cathedral schools were provided for, and Royal Grammar Schools founded out of the old 
endowments. — See Barnard'' s J^ational Education in Europe. 

t The names, by which the various educational institutions in the colonies were designated 
in the early records and laws on the subject, were adopted with the institutions themselves 
from the fatherland, and must be interpreted according to the usage prevailing there at the 
time. By a Grammar School— -whether it was a continuation of the old Grammar School of 
the Cathedral, or the Cloister School of the Monastery, in some cases dating back even beyond 
the reign of Alfred— or newly endowed by Royal Authority out of the spoils of the religious 
houses, by Henry VIII., Elizabeth, or Edward VI.— or established by benevolent individuals 
afterwards— was meant a .school for the teaching of Greek and Latin, or in some cases Latin 
only, and for no other gratuitous teaching. A few of the poor who were unable to pay for 
their education were to be selected— some according to the parish in which they were born 
or lived, some on account of the name they bore,— and to receive instruction in the learned 
languages, and under certain conditions to be sujiported through the university. These Public 
Grammar schools were thus the nurseries of the scholars of England, and in them the poor 
and the rich, to some extent enjoyed equal advantages of learning, and through them the way 
to the highest honors in the state, and the largest usefulness in the church was opened to th« 
humblest in the land. — <S'ee Barriard's National Education in Europe. 

" Considerations concerning Free Schools as settled in England " by Christopher 
Wase, published in Oxford, 1678. Carlisle's " Endowed Grammar Schools in England and 
Wales," 2 vols, London, 1818. Ackermanns," History of the Principal Schools of England,^'' 
London, 1816. Parliamentary Reports of Commissioners to enquire into the Endowed Char- 
ities of England and Wales from 1826 to 1850. 

The Free Schools of England were originally established in towns where there was no old 
Conventual, Cathedral, Royal or Endowed Grammar School. With very few exceptions these 
schools were founded and endowed by individuals, for the teaching of Greek, and Latin, and 
for no other gratuitous teaching. The gratuitous instruction was sometimes extended to all 
the children born or living in a particular parish, or of a particular name. All not specified 
and provided for in the instruments of endowment paid tuition to the master. 

The total value of Endowed Charities for Education in England and Wales, including the 
Grammar and Free Schools, and excluding the Universities and Great Public Schools of Eton, 
&c., according to a late report of the Commis.sioners for Inquiry into tneir condition, is 
returned at jE75 000.000. and the annual income at £1.209.395, which, by more judicious and 
faithful management, it is estimated, can be raised to i:4.000 OCO, or 5^20.000 000 a year.— 2?ar- 
nard's National Education in Europe, P. 7CG. 


as afterwards developed, particularly in Massachusetts, supported by tax, 
and free of all charge to all scholars rich and poor ; neither was it a Charity 
School, exclusively for the poor. The term was applied here, as well 
as in the early Acts of Virginia* and other states, in the same sense, 
in which it was used in England, at the same and much earlier 
dates, to characterize a Grammar School unrestricted as to a class 
of children or scholars specified in the instruments by which it was 
founded, and so supported as not to depend on the fluctuating 
attendance and tuition of scholars for the maintenance of a master. 
In every instance in which we have traced their history, the " free 

* The Virginia Company in 1619, instructed the Governor for the time being to see "that 
each Town, Borough, and Hundred procured, by just means, a certain number of their chil- 
dren, to be brought up in the first elements of literature: that the most toward ly of them 
should be fitted for college, in the building of which they proposed to proceed as soon as 
any profit arose from the estate appropriated to that use ; and they earnestly required their 
utmost help and furtherance in that pious and important work." In iri21, Mr. Copeland, 
chaplain of the Royal James, on her arrival from the East Indies, prevailed on the ships 
company to subscribe i-lOO toward "a free schoole," and collected other donations of 
money and books for the same purpose. The school was located in Charles City, as being 
most central for the colony, and was called " The East India School." The company 
allotted 1000 acres of land, with five servants and an overseer, for the maintenance of the 
master and uslier. The inhabitants made a contribution of JEISOO to build a house, &c. 

A second Free School was established in Elizabeth City in 1642; although Gov. Berkeley, 
in 1670, in reply to the Question of the Commissioners of Foreign Plantations, " what course 
is taken about instructing the people within your government in the Christian religion ; and, 
what provision is there made for the paying of your ministry?" answered as follows: — 

"The same course that is taken in England out of towns ; every man, according to his 
ability, instructing his children. We have forty-eight parishes, and our ministers are well 
paid, and, by my consent, should be better, if they would pray oftener, and preach less. But, 
of all other commodities, so of this, the w^orst are sent us, and we have had few we could 
boast of since the persecution in Cromwell's tyranny drove pious, worthy men here. But, 
I thank God, there are no free schools, nor printing, and, I hope we shall not have these 
hundred years ; for, learning has brought disobedience, and heresy, and sects into the world, 
and printing has divulged them, and libels against the best government. God keep us from 

To the same question the Governor of Connecticut, replied : " Great care is taken for the 
instruction of the people in the Christian Religion, by the ministers catechising of them and 
preaching to them twice every Sabbath day, and sometimes on Lecture days, and also by 
masters of families instructing and catechising their children and servants, being required so 
to do by law. There is in every town, except one or two new towns a settled minister, whose 
maintenance is raised by rate, in some places jElOO, in some £90, &c." In a subsequent 
answer to similar questions the Governor states that one-fourth of the annual revenue of the 
Colony, " is laid out in maintaining free fcommon] schools for the education of our children." 

The first school established in Manhattan [New York], was by the West India Company, in 
1633. This was an Elementary Parochial School under the management of the deacons of the 
Dutch Church, and is still continued. The first " Latin Schoolmaster" was sent out by 
the Company in 1659. In 1702 a "Free Grammar School" was partially endowed on the 
King's farm ; and in 1732 a " Free School for teaching the Latin and Greek and practical 
branches of mathematics " was in«orporated by law. The bill for this school, drafted by Mr. 
Phillipse, the Speaker, and brought in by Mr. Delancey, had this preamble ; " Whereas the 
youth of this Colony are found by manifold experience, to be not inferior in their natural gen- 
iuses, to the youth of any other country in the world, therefore be it enacted, &c."—See Dun- 
shce's History of the School of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church. 1853. Smith's His- 
tory of New York. 

The first school Act of Maryland was passed in 1694, and is entitled a " Supplicatory Act to 
their sacred Majesties for erecting of Free Schools," meaning thereby the endowment o( 
" schools, or places of study of Latin, Greek, writing, and the like, consisting of one master, one 
usher, and one writing master," &c. 


schools" of New England]; were endowed by grants of land, by gift 
and bequests of individuals, or by "allowance out of the common 
stock of the town," were designed especially for instruction in Latin 

•The earliest mention of the establishment of " free schools " by Gov. Winthrop, in hi« 
History of New England, is under date of 1645, in the following language: "Divers free 
schools were erected, as at Roxbury, (for maintainance whereof every inhabitant bound some 
house or land for a yearly allowance for ever) and at Boston (where they made an order to 
allow CiO pounds to the master and an house, and 30 pounds to an usher, who should also 
teach to read, and write, and cipher, and Indians' children were to be taught freely, and the 
charge to be by yearly contribution, either by voluntary allowance, or by rate of such as 
refused, etc., and this order was confirmed by the general court [blank]. Other towns did 
the like, providing maintainance by several means." Savage's Winthrop, Vol. II, p. 215. 

We know by the original documents published by Parker in his " Sketch of the History of the 
Grammar School in theEasterly Part of Roxbury," thecharacter of the Free School erected in 
that town. It was an endowed Grammar School, in which " none of the inhabitants of the said 
town of Roxbury that shall not join in this act (an instrument, or subscription paper, binding 
the subscribers and their estates for ever to the extent of their subscription " to erect a free 
schoole" "for the education of their children in Literature to fit them for publicke service, 
bothe in the Churche and Common wealthe, in succeeding ages,") with the rest of the Donors 
shall have any further benefit thereby than other strangers shall have who are not inhabit- 
ants." The school thus established was a Grammar School, as then understood in England, 
and was free only to the children of those for whom, or by whom it was endowed, and only 
to the extent of the endowment. This school, although not till within a few years past a 
Free School, or part of the system of Public Schools, according to the modern acceptation of 
the term, has been a fountain of higher education to that community and the state. 

The early votes establishing and providing for the support of the " free schools " hi Bos- 
ton, as well as in other towns in Mass., while they recognize, by grants of land and allowance 
out of the common stock, the interest and duty of the public in schools and univei-sal educa- 
tion, also provide for the payment by parents of a rate or tuition. Among the earliest as- 
signments of lands in Boston was a " garden piott to Mr. Danyell Maude, schoolemaster," in 
1637; a tract of thirty acres of land at Muddy Brook, (now part of Brookline), to Mr. Fer- 
ment, (or Permont, or Pormenl,) who, in 1635, was " intreated to become scholemaster for 
the teaching and nurturing of children with us." In 1641, "it is ordered that Deare Island be 
improved for the maintenance of Free Schoole for the towne." In 1654, " the ten pounds 
left by the legacy to y« schoole of Boston, by Miss. Hudson, deceased," is let to Capt. Olliver, 
Under date of August 6, 1636, there is, in the first volume of the Town Records of Boston, a 
subscription " towards the maintenance of free schoolemaster, Mr. Daniel Maude, being now 
chosen thereunto." In the provision made in 1645, it is provided that " Indian children shall 
be taught gratis; " implying that tuilion was, or might be, exacted from all others. In 1650, 
" it is also agreed on that Mr. Woodmansy, ye schoolmaster, shall have fifty pounds p. an. 
for his teaching ye schollars, and his p. portion to be made up by rate." In a vote passed 
1682, authorizing the selectmen to establish one or more " free schools to teach children to write 
and cypher " — the Committee with the Selectmen allow jE25 per annum for each school, " and 
such persons as send their children to school (that are able) shall pay something to the master 
for his better encouragement in his work." 

Mr. Felt in his Annals of Salem, has given transcripts from the records of that town, which 
show the gradual development of the Free School, from an endowed school, devoted princi- 
pally to preparing young men for college, and free only to poor but bright children, who 
gave promise of becoming good scholars— into a system of public schools, for children of all 
ages, and of every condition and prospects in life, supported entirely by property tax or 
public funds In 1641, at the Quarterly Court, Col. Endicott moved "a ffree skoole and 
therefore wished a whole town meeting about it." In 1644 it is "Ordered that a note be 
Dublished one the next lecture day, that such as have children to be kept at schoole, would 
bring in their names and what they will giue for one whole yeare and, also, that if any poore 
body hath children or a cliilde, to be put to schoole and not able to pay for their schooling, 
that the towne will pay it by a rate " In 1670, the selectmen are ordered "to take care to 
provide a Grammar school master, and agree with him for his mayntenance." He was to 
have jE20 a year from the town, and " half pay for all scollers of the towne, and whole pay 
from strangers. " In 1677, " Mr. Daniel Eppes is called to bee a grammar schoolemaster," 
"provhled hee may haue what shall be annually allowed him, not be a town rate, butt in 



and Greek, and were supported in part by payments of tuition or 
rates by parents. These scliools were the well-springs of classical 
education in this country, and were the predecessors of the incorpora- 
ted Academies which do not appear under that name until a compara- 
tively recent period. 

The only Free Schools provided for in the early legislation of Con- 
necticut were town or county Grammar Schools, to prepare young 
men for college ; and instruction in these schools was not gratuitous. 
"Beyond the avails of any grant of land, endowment, legacy, or allow- 
ance from the common stock," parents, who were able, were assessed a 
certain rate according to the number and time of attendance of child- 
ren sent. Thus, under the order of the town-meeting of New Haven, 
in 1641, above cited, " twenty pounds a year was paid to Ezekiel 
Cheevers, the present school-master, for two or three years, at first. 
But that not proving a competent raayntenance, in August, 1644, it 
was enlarged to thirty pounds a yeare, and so continueth ; " and, that 
this allowance was not all that the school-master received is evident 
from the following entry, under date of July 8, 1643 : "Mr. Cheevers 
desired 4-3-6 out of the estate of Mr. Trobridge, wch is justly 
due to him for teaching of children." This mode of supporting 
schools was continued in Connecticut in respect to public schools of 
every grade ; a mode which recognizes at once the duty of the parent 
or guardian of children, and of the public, and encourages endow- 
ments so far as not to weaken the sense of parental and public re- 
sponsibility as to education. Under this system, for one hundred and 
fifty years prior to the beginning of the present century, Connecticut 
solved the great problem of universal education so that in 1800 a 

Bome other suteable way." In 1699, " each scholar is to pay 12d a month, and what tliis 
lacked should be made up out of the *' funds sett apart for ye Grammar schoole." In 1713, 
•'the committee perceiving tliat 2* a quarter for each boy of the Latin and English schools, 
in the body of the town, was insufficient, agreed that it should be 2/6 in money, payable at 
the commencement of the term. Every ' scholar that goes in the winter, to find three feet 
of wood, or to pay to their masters A/& in money, to purchase wood withal.' " In 1729, " Sam- 
uel Brown grants unto the Grammar school in Salem, to be kept in or near the town house 
street, jei20 passable money, to make the same a free school, or towards the educating of 
eight or ten poor scholars, yearly, in the Grammar learning or the mathematics, viz : the 
mariner's art ; the interest thereof to be improved only for that end forever, as a committee, 
chosen by the town of Salem, for the taking care of said school may direct, with the advice 
of the minister or ministers of the first church and myself or children or two of the chief of 
their posterity. Mr Brown then stated, that he gave jE60 to the English school so that its 
income might be applied 'towards making the same a free school, or for learning six poor 
scholars ;' and a like sum ' to a woman's school, the interest thereof to be yearly improved for 
the learning of six very poor children their letters and to spell and read, who may be sent 
to said school six or seven months in the year.' He required, that the two last donations 
should be managed by the same trustees as the first." By slow degrees the system was ex- 
panded so as to embrace Evening Schools for children who cannot attend the day Schools, 
Primary Schools for young children. Intermediate Schools, English High Schools for Girls, 
English High School for Boys, and a Latin School, 


family, " which had suffered so much barbarism as not teach by them-, 
selves or others, their children and apprentices so much learning as 
may enable them to read the English tongue," or even an individual 
" unable to read the Holy Word of God, and the good laws of the 
Colony," was not to be met with.* 

Mr. Cheever removed to Ipswich, in Massachusetts, in November, 
1650, and took charge of the Grammar School, which was established 
and supported in the same manner as similar schools in other parts 
of New England. Public spirited individuals made donations, and 
the Town early set apart land " toward the building and maintaining 
of a Grammar Schoole and schoole-m aster," and in 1652 appointed 
a committee "to disburse and dispose such sums of money as have or 
may be given " for these objects, with power to enlarge the main- 
tainance of the master, " by appointing from yeare to yeare what 
each scholar shall yearly or quarterly pay or proportionably." Of his 
labors here as a teacher, we have been able to gather no memorial — 
except that from an entrj\ under date of 1661, it appears that his 
agricultural operations required a barn, and that he planted an 
orchard on his homestead — thereby improving the soil of Ipswich as 
well as the souls of her children, by healthy manual labor. It is to 
be regretted that the early practice of attaching a house for the occu- 
pancy of the master, with a few acres of land for garden, orchard, 
and the feeding of a cow, adopted with the school fi-om the old 
world, was not continued with the institution of new schools, down 
to the present time. It would have given more of professional per- 
manence to the employment of teaching, and prevented the growth 
of that " barbarism of boarding round," which is still the doom of 

* That the same system of Common or Public Schools prevailed in Massachusetts, is not only evi- 
dent from the early records of Boston, Ipswich, Roxbury, Charlestown, and Salem and other towns 
in that colony, but it is expressly provided for in the first formal order on the subject of schools, 
enacted in 1647 — " It is therefore ordered yt every towneship in this jurisdiction after ye Lord hath 
increased y'" to ye number of 50 housholders shall then forthwith appoint one within their towne 
to teach all such children, as shall resort to him to write and reade, whose wages shall be paid either 
by yc parents or masters of such children, or by ye inhabitants in generall by way of supply, as ye 
maior part of those yt order ye prudentials of ye towne shall appoint, provided those yt send their 
children be not oppressed by paying much more yn they can have ym taught for in other townes." 

From that time to the present, the laws of the Colony and the State, have made it obligatory 
an towns to establish and sustain schools, but for near a century and half left them free as to the 
mode of paying the teacher and providing the incidental expenses of the school. Even after it was 
made compulsory on the town to keep a literally free school for a certain number of months in 
each year, out of a tax collected with other taxes of the town, the same school in a majority of the 
country districts was continued as a subscription or pay school under the same teacher, by the pay- 
ment by parents of a certain rate for the number of scholars sent. The term of the free school was 
also prolonged by the system of boarding the teacher round in the families of the district, and by 
contributions of a certain quantity of tifood for each scholar. 

t "The barn erected by Ezekiel Cheever, and the orchard planted by him, were after his 
removal to Charlestown, bought by the feofees, [committee and trustees of the Grammar 
School] and presented for the use of the master."— Fear's History of Ipstcich. 


the teacher in District Schools in many parts of New England, and 
operates very powerfully to drive men with families from the service 
of the public schools. 

In November, 1661, Mr. Cheever, after making the Free School at 
Ipswich " famous in all the country," and thereby, according to Dr. 
Bentley, making that town rank in literature and population above 
other towns in the county of Essex, removed to Charlestown, where 
early efforts had been made to establish a Town Free School, by 
g-anting, in 1647, "a rate of fifteen pounds to be gathered of the 
tow^n," and by the rents of the island," and of " Mystik Wear." Of his 
labors here we find but scanty memorials. Even in these early days 
the schoolmaster was not always paid his pittance in due season ; did 
not always find his school-house in good repair, and had reason to 
complain that other masters " took his scholars," and thereby doubt- 
less diminished his income from rates or quarter bills. On the 3d 
November, 1666, Mr. Cheever presented the following "motion" to 
the selectmen : 

" First, that they would take care the school house be speedily amended 
because it is much out of repair. 

Secondly, that they would take care that his yearly salary be paid, the con- 
stables being much behind with him. 

Thirdly, putting them in mind of their promise at his first coming to town, 
viz. that no other schoolmaster should be suffered, or set up in the town so as he 
could teach the same, yet now Mr. Mansfield is suffered to teach and take away 
his scholars."* 

iVfter laboring nine years at Charlestown, Mr. Cheever moved over to 

Boston, Jan. 6th, 1670, where his labors were continued for eight and 

thirty years — commencing from a period of life when most modem 

teachers break down. The manner of his engagement to teach the " Free 

Schoole," which has been known since 1790, as the Latin School,* of 

Boston, is thus recorded, under the date 22. 10th (December) 1670: 

"At a Meetinge of the hon*"^. Govern''. Richard Bellingham, Esq. 

Major Generall John Leveret, Edward Tynge Esq^ Majestratcs, Mr. 

John Mayo, Mr. John Oxenbridge, Mr. Thomas Thatcher, and Mr. 

' Frothingham's History of Charlestown, p. 157. In the same year Mr. Frothingham gives an 
Order of the Selectmen relative to the behavior of children on the Lord's Day, in which Mr. 
Cheever is introduced : '• We judge it our duty to commend it as our alTectionate desire to 
all our inhabitants, concerned herein to further us with their cheerful endeavors, and that 
each person whom we nominate would in his term sit before the youths pew on Lords day 
during the morning and evening exercise. It being our joint expectation that all youths 
under fifteen years of age unless on grounded exemption by us, do constantly sit in some one 
of those three pews made purposely for them. It is our desire that all parents and governors 
will require their children and servants of the capacity aforesaid to sit and continue orderly 
in those pews except mr. Cheevers scholars, who are required to sit orderly and constantly 
in ths pews appointed for them together. It is moreover commended to the conscientious 
care and endeavour of those that do sit before the youths i)ews Lords days to observe their 
carriage, and if any youth shall carry it rudely and irreverently to bring them before one of 
our magistrates with convincing testimony that due course may be taken with them for the 
diKCouragemont of them and any others of like profane behavior." 


James Allen Eld'^^, Capt. Thomas Lake, Capt. Jamss Olliver, Mr. 
John Richards, and John Joylifte selectmen of Bostone. It was ov- 
dered and agreed that Mr. Ezechiell Chevers, Mr. Tomson & Mr. 
Ilinksman should be at the Govern" house that day sevennight to 
treate with them concerninge the free schoole." "At a Meetinge of 
the same gentlemen " as above, with the addition of Mr. Ilezekiah 
Usher, "it was agreed and ordered that Mr. Ezechiell Cheevers sh6uld 
be called to & installed in the free schoole as head Master thereof, 
which be, being then present, accepted of: likewise that Mr. Thom- 
son should be invited to be an assistant to Mr. Cheevers in his worke 
in the schoole; wh*^'^ Mr. Tompson, beinge present, desired time to 
consider of, and to give his answere ; — And upon the third day of 
January, gave his answer to Major Generall Leverett in the negative, 
he havinge had and accepted of, a call to Charlestowne." On the 
6th day of the next month, the same honorable gentlemen, excepting 
Mr. Usher, " beinge met repaired to the schoole and sent for Mr. 
Tompson who, when he came, declared his removall to Charlestowne 
— and resigned up the possestion of the schoole and schoole house to 
the Govern"^ &;ca, who delivered the key and possestion of the schoole 
house to Mr. Ezechiell Cheevers as the sole Mast"^. thereof. And it 
was fiirther agreed that the said Mr. Cheevers should be allowed 
sixtie pounds p. an. for his seruice in the schoole, out of the towne 
rates, and rents that belonge to the schoole — and the possestion, and 
use of y* schoole house." 

*The foregoing transcript from the Town Records are printed from Gould's "Account of 
the Free Schools in Boston," first published in the " Prize Book, No. IV.,ofthePublick Latin 
School," in 1823. Mr. Gould (BeiTJamin A.) was, for twenty-eight years, (1814 to 1838), head 
master of this school; and, under his administration, it rose from a temporary depression to 
which it had been gradually falling under his predecessor, into a high state of efficiency, from 
which it has never again declined. He is still living in tlie enjoyment of a green old age, which 
seems to have descended as an heir-loom from Master Cheever to his successors. His Ac- 
count of the System of Public or Free Schools in Boston was a valuable contribution to the 
educational literature of the day, and helped to raise public attention in other cities of the 
state and country to a higher standanl of popular education than had been reached or regard- 
ed as practicable out of Boston. 

The History of " the Free Schools," the public schools and other means of Popular 
Education generally in Boston, from its first inception in the entreating of " Brother Philemon 
Pormont to become schoolmaster for the teaching and nurturing of children " in 1634, the set- 
ting apart of grants of land, and allowances from the common stock, the protection of trust 
estates and bequests for school purposes, and the raising of additional maintainance by sub- 
scripticu in 16^ to reduce the rate of tuition in higher, as well as elementary instruction— 
througl all the stages of progress,— the introduction of the dame School, Grammar School, 
Charity School, Writing School, the admission of girls as well as boys, the Primary School, 
the English High School, and the Normal School,— the Reformatory and Farm School— the 
Library,— Social, Incorporated, and Free,— the Public Press, from the Newsletter of 1704, 
to the Quarterly, Monthly, Weekly, and Daily issue,— the Debating Class and Public Lecture 
in all their agencies and helps of self-education and social and literary amusement, as well 
as of scientific research— a History of Public Schools and Popular Education in Boston from 
1630 to 1855, embracing a connected view of all the institutions and agencies which 
supply the deficiency, and determine the character of the instruction given in the Homes and 
the Schools of a people, would be one of the most valuable contributions, which could be 
noade to the History of American Civilization and the Progress of Society 


The SCHOOL HOUSE into wliicli Mr. Cheever was installed as 
the "sole Master," by the Honourable Govenor, and Magistrates of 
the Colony, the Elders of the Churches, and Selectmen of the Town 
of Boston, and in which he continued to sway "the rod of empire'* 
for thirty-five years over " goveuors, judges, ministers, magistrates, 
and merchants yet in their teens," is thus represented.* 

The SCHOOL itself under his long, faithful, and distinguished ser- 
vices became the principal classical school not only of Massachusetts 
Bay, but according to Rev. Dr. Prince, " of the British Colonies, if not 
of all America." 

* For this vignette of Mr. Cheever's School-house, we are indebted to the Rev. Edward E. 
Hale, of Worcester. 

" Cheever's school-house occupied land on the North side of School street, nearly opposite 
the present Horticultural Hall. It was large enough to contain one hundred and fifty pupils. 
At the present time, the east wall of the Stone Chapel stands on the site of the old building, 
which was removed, after much controversy, to make room for the building of the Chapel, 
in 1748. The outline of the old building, and some general sketch of its appearance appear 
on an old map of Boston, dated 1722, of which, a copy is now in possession of Mr. Pulsifer, 
of Boston. On this map, every building was represented, on the spot it occupied, with some 
effort at precision. From this map Cheever's school-house is represented in this sketch. 
King's Chapel is drawn from a view of more pretensions, representing tlie whole town, from 
a point above the harbor, in 1744. In that view, unfortunately, Cheever's school-house does 
not appear. As King's Chapel was materially enlarged in 1710, it has been represented here 
as being, in Cheever's tim?, somewhat shorter than in the authority alluded to. In an early 
print, described by Dr. Greenwood, a crown was represented below its vane, which has, 
therefore, been placed there in this sketch." 

Mr. Gould introduces into his notice of the controversy which attended the removal of 
the old school house, to make room for an enlargement of the church, the following im- 
promptu epigram written by Joseph Green, Esqr., and sent to Mr. Lovell in the School, 
when it was announced that the town had agreed to grant permission to the propi-ietors of 
King's Chapel to take down the old house. 

A fig for your learning: I tell you the Town, 
To make the church larger, must pull the school down. 
Unluckily spoken, replied Master Birch- 
Then learning, I fear, stops the growth of the Church. 
We are also indebted to the Rev. Edward Everett Hale, for the opportunity of consulting 
his own "-Notes for a History of the Latin School (f Boston," [in which he has transcribed 
one of Cheever's Latin Dissertations from the " Cheever Manuscripts," in the Massachusetts 
Historical Society, and a synopsis of the rest, as well as a letter in Latin to his son, afterward 
the Rev. T. Cheever, of Marbleliead. who had asked his consent to marry a young lady of 
Salem,] and other valuable memoranda and assistance. 


Some light is thrown on the internal economy of the school under 
Mr. Cheever's charge, of the age at which pupils were admitted, the 
motives to study and good behavior appealed to, the punishments in- 
flicted, as well as on the importance attached to religious training in 
the family and the school at that day, in the biographies of several 
of his pupils who became eminent in after life. 

The Autobiography of the Rev. John Barnard, of Marblehead, 
drawn up by him, in 1766, in the 85th year of his age, at the request 
of the Rev. Dr. Stiles, of Yale College, and printed for the first time in 
the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society — Third series, 
Vol. v., p. 177 to 243, contains a sketch of his school experience 
under Mr. Cheever's tuition, and glimpses of the family and college 
training of that early day. In the extracts which follow, the chasms 
are found in the mutilated manuscript, and the words printed in 
Italics are inserted from conjecture by the Publishing Committee of 
the Society. 

" I was born at Boston, Gth November 1G81 ; descended from reputable parents, 
viz. John and Esther Barnard, remarkable for their piety and benevolence, who 
devoted me to the service of God, in the work of the ministry from my very 
birth ; and accordingly took special care to instruct me themselves in the prin- 
ciples of the Christian religion, and kept me close at school to furnish my young 
mind with the knowledge of letters. By that time I had a little passed my sixth 
year, I had left my reading-school, in the latter part of which my mistress made 
me a sort of usher, appointing me tof teach some children that were older than 
myself, as well as smaller ones 5 and in which time I had read my Bible through 
thrice. My parents thought me to be weakly, because of my thin habit and palo 
countenance, and therefore sent me into the country, where I spent my seventh 
summer, and by the change of air and diet and exercise I grew more fleshy and 
hardy ^ and that I might not lose my reading, was put to a school-mistress, and 
returned home in the fall. 

In the spring 1689, of my eighth year I was sent to the grammar-school, 

* Of the author of this autobiography, the Rev. Dr. Chauncey, of Boston, in a letter to Dr. 
Stiles, dated May 6, 1768, says : "He is now in his eighty-seventh year. I esteem him one of 
our greatest men. He is equalled by few in regard either of invention, liveliness of imagina- 
tion, or strength and clearness in reasoning." On the burning of the Library of Harvard 
College, in 1764, he presented many books from his own library, and imported others from 
England to the value of ten pounds sterling; and, in his will, bequeathed two hundred 
pounds to the same institution. He died January 24, 1770, in the eighty-ninth year of his age. 
*' Of his charities," he remarks, in his autobiography, " I always thought the tenth of my in- 
come due to our great Melchisedeck. My private ones are known unto God ; but, there is 
one way of service I venture to tell you of; I have generally kept two boys of poor parents 
at school, and, by this means, have been instrumental in bringing up, from unlikely families, 
such as have made good men, and valuable members of the Commonwealth." 

t It appears from this statement that this unnamed school-mistress adopted the monitorial 
system a century and more before Bell, or Lancaster, or their respective adherents convulsed 
the educational world of England by their claims to its authorship. She applied the princi- 
ple of mutual instruction which is as old as the human family, and which has been tried 
*to some extent, in all probability, in the instruction and discipline of many schools in every 
age of the world. Certain it is, that the system, with much of the modern machinery of 
monitors, was adopted by Trotzendorf, in Germany, in the sixteenth century, and by Paulet 
in France, many years before these two champions of an economical system of popular edu- 
cation, by means of one head master, with boys and girls for assistants, in a .school of many 
hundred children, ever set up their model schools in Madras or London. 


under the tuition of the aged, venerable, and justly famous Mr. Ezekiel Cheever. 
But after a few weeks, an odd accident drove me from the school. There was 
an older lad entered the school the same week with me ; we strove who should 
outdo ; and he beat me by the help of a brother in the upper ckiss. who slo<»d 
behind master with the accidence open for him to read out off; by which means 
he could recite his * * three and four times in a forenoon, and the same in 
the afternoon ; but I who had no such help, and was obliged to commit all to 
memory, could not keep pace with him ; so that he would be always one ksson 
before me. My ambition could not bear to be outdone, and in such a fraudulent 
manner, and therefore I left the schmfl. About this time arrived a dissenting 
minister from England, who opened a private school for reading, writing, and 
Latin. My good father put me under his tuition, with whom I spent a year and 
a half. The gentleman receiving but little encouragement, threw up his school, 
and returned me to my father, and again I was sent to my aged Mr. Cheever, who 
placed me in the lowest class •, but finding I soon read through niy « * « ^ 
in a few weeks he advanced me to the ♦ * * ^ and the next year made 
me the head of it. 

In the time of my absence from Mr. Cheever, it pleased God to take to him- 
self my dear mother, who was not only a very virtuous, but a very intelligent 
woman. She was exceeding fond of my learning, and taught me to pray. My 
good father also instructed me, and made a little el<jset for me to retire to for my 
morning and evening devotion, liut, alas ! how childish and hypocritical were 
all my pretensions to piety, there being little or no serious thoughts of God and 
religion in me. »»»**«*»*«• 

Though my master advanced me, as above, yet I was a very naughty boy, 
much given to play, insomuch that lie at length oi>enly declared, " You Barnard, 
I know you can do well enough if you will ; but you are so full of play that you 
hinder your classmates from getting their lessons ; and therefore, if any of them 
cannot perform their duty, I shall correct you for it." One unlucky day, one 
of my classmates did not look into his book, and therefore could not say his 
lesson, though I called upon him once and again to mind his book : upon which 
our master beat me. I told master the reason why he could not say his lesson 
was, his declaring he would beat me if any of the class were wanting in their 
duty ; since which this boy would not look into his book, though I called upon 
him to mind his book, as the class could witness. The boy was pleased with my 
being corrected, and persisted in his neglect, for which I was still corrected, and 
that for several days. I thought, in justice, I ought to correct the boy, and 
compel him to a better temper ; and therefore, after school was done, I went 
up to him, and told liim I had been beaten several times for his neglect ; and 
since master would not correct him I would, and I should do so as often as I 
was corrected for him ; and then drubbed him heartily. The boy never came to 
school any more, and so that unhappy affair ended. 

Though I was often beaten for my play, and my little roguish tricks, yet I 
don't remember that I was ever beaten for my book more tlian once or twice. 
One of these was upon this occasion. Master put our class upon turning ./Esop's 
Fables into Latin vei-se. Some dull fellows made a shift to perform this to accept- 
ance ; but I was so much duller at this exercise, that I could make nothing of it; 
for which master corrected me, and this he did two or three days going. I had 
honestly tried my possibles to perform the task ; but having no poetical fancy, 
nor then a capacity opened of expressing the same idea by a variati(»n of phrases, 
though I was perfectly acquainted with prosody, I found I could do nothing; and 
therefore plainly told my master, that I had diligently labored all I could to per- 
form what he required, and perceiving I had no genius for it, I thought it was in 
vain to strive against nature any longer ; and he never more requiied it of me, 
Nor had I any thing of a poetical genius till after I had been at College some 
time, when upon reading some of Mr. Cowley's works, I was highly pleased, and 
a new scene opened before me. * 

I remember once, in making a piece of Latin, my master found fault with the 
syntax of one word, which was not so used by me heedlessly, but designedly, and 
therefore I told him there was a plain grammar rule for it. lie angrily replied, 
there was no such rule. I took the grammar and showed the rule to him. Then 
he smilingly said, "Thou art a brave boy ; I had forgot it." And no wonder ; 
for he was then above eighty years old. 


We continue these extracts beyond the passages which relate to 
Mr. Barnard's experience in Mr. Cheever's school, because they throw 
light on college life at that time. 

" Fiom the grammar school I was admitted into the college, in Cambridge, in 
New England, in July, 1696, under the Presidentship of the very reverend and 
excellent Dr. Increase Mather, (who gave me for a thesis, Habcnti dahitur,) and 
the tutorage of those two great men, Mr. John Levcrctt, (afterwards President,) 
and Mr. William Brattle, (afterwards the worthy minister of Cambridge.) Mr. 
Leverett became my special tutor for about a year and a half, to whom succeeded 
Mr. Jabez Fitch, (afterwards the minister of Ipswich with Mr. John Rogers, who, 
at the invitation of the church in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, removed to 
them.) Upon my entering into college, I became chamber-mate, the fast year, 
to a senior and a junior sophister 5 which might have been greatly to my advan- 
tage, had they been of a studious disposition, and made any considerable progress 
in literature. But, alas ! they were an idle pack, who knew but little, and took 
no pains to increase their knowledge. When therefore, according to my dis- 
position, which was ambitious to excel, I applied myself close to books, and began 
to look forward into the next year's exercises, this unhappy pair greatly discou- 
raged me, and beat me off from my studies, so that by their persuasions I foolishly 
threw by my books, and soon became as idle as they were. Oh ! how baneful ia 
it to be linked with bad company ! and what a vile heart had I to heaiken to their 
wretched persuasions ! I never, after this, recovered a good studious disposition, 
while I was at college. Having a ready, quick memory, which rendered the 
common exercises of the college easy to me, and being an active youth, I was 
hurried almost continually into one diversion or another, and gave myself to no 
particular studies, and therefore made no great proficiency in any part of solid 
learning. *»*»«*«•**«* 

In July, 1700, 1 took my first degree. Dr. Increase Mather being President; 
after which I returned to my honored father's house, where I betook myself to 
close studying, and humbling myself beffjre God with fasting and prayer, implor- 
ing the pardon of all my sins, through the mediation of Christ ; begging the 
divine Spirit to sanctify me throughout, in spirit, soul, and body, and fit uie for, 
and use me in the service of the sanctuary, and direct and bless all my studies to 
that end. I joined to the North Church in Boston, under the pastoral care of 
the two Mathers. Some time in November, 1T(»2, I was visited with a fever and 
sore throat, but through the mercy of God to a poor sinful creature, in a few days 
I recovered a good state of health ; and from that time to this, November, 1766, 
I have never had any sickness that has confined me to my bed. 

While I continued at my good father's I prosecuted my studies; and looked 
something into the mathematics, though I gained but little ; our advantages there- 
for being noways equal to what they have, who now have the great Sir Isaac 
Newton, and Dr. Halley, and some other mathematicians, for their guides. About 
this time I made a visit to the college, as I generally did once or twice a year, 
where I remember the conversation turning upon the mathemati<is, one of the 
company, who was a considerable proficient in them, observing my ignorance, 
said to me he would give me a question, which if I answered in a month's close 
application, he should account me an apt scholar. He gave me the question. I, 
who was ashamed of the reproach cast upon me, set myself hard to work, and in 
a fortnight's time returned him a solution of the question, both by trigonometry 
and geometry, with a canon by which to resolve all questions of the like nature. 
When I showed it to him, he was surprised, said it was right, and owned he 
knew no way of resolving it but by algebra, which I was an utterly stranger 
to. I also gave myself to the study of the Biblical Hebrew, turned the Lord's 
prayer, the creed, and part of the Assembly's Catechism into Hebrew, (for which 
I had Dr. Cotton Mather for my corrector,) and entered on the task of finding 
'the radix of every Hebrew word in the Bible, with designs to form a Hebrew 
Concordance 5 but when I had proceeded through a few chapters in Genesis, I found 
the work was done to my hand by one of the Buxtorfs. So I laid it by. * * 

About two months before I took my second degree, the reverend and deserv- 
edly famous Mr. Samuel Willard, then Vice-President, called upon me, (though 
I lived in Boston,) to give a common-place in the college hall 5 which I did, the 


latter end of June, from 2, Peter, i, 20, 21, endeavoring to prove the divine inspi- 
ration and authority of the holy Scriptures. When I had concluded, the President 
was so good as to say openly in the hall, ' Bene fecisti, Barnarde, et gratias ago 
tihi.^ Under him I took my second degree in July, 1703." 

In Turrell's " Life and Character of Rev. Benjamin Col man, D. D., 
late pastor of a churcli in Boston, New England, who deceased 
August 29, 1747," and published in 1749, there is the following 
sketch of the school life of this eminent divine. 

" He was of a tender constitution from his birth, and very backward in his speech 
and reading till he arrived to the age o^ five years; when, at once, he grew for- 
ward in both, and entered (in 1678) young and small into the Grammar School 
under the tuition of the venerable and learned Mr. Ezekiel Cheever. His 
sprightly genius and advances in learning were soon (with pleasure) observed by 
his preceptor^ insomuch, that, in his first and second years, he was several times 
called upon by him to reprove and shame some dull boys of upper forms, when 
they grosly failed in their catechism and some low exercises. He was fired with 
a laudable ambition of excelling at his book, and a fear of being out«ione. By his 
industry at home, he always kept foremost, or equal to the best of the form at 
school ; and, a great advantage he had (which, at that time, gave him no little (pain 
in the promptness, diligence, and brightness of his intimate companion, Prout, who 
used to spend his hours out of schof>l, generally, in studies with him, the two or 
three last years of his life ; and, their preceptor used, openly, to compare their 
exercises, and, sometimes, declare he knew not which were best, and, bid Colman 
take heed, for, the first time he was outdone, Prout should have his place. But, 
alas I a violent fever seized the lovely, shining, ambitious boy, and suddenly carried 
him to an higher form, to the great grief as well as hurt of Caiman^ who was 
now left without a rival, and, so without a spur to daily care and labour. How- 
ever, he followed his studies so well that he was qualified for an admission into 
Harvard College in the year 1688. 

His early piety was equal to his learning. His pious Mother (as he records it, 
to her eternal honour), like LemueVs, travailed in pain through his infancy and 
childhood for the new birth ; and, to her ins^tructions and corrections add<d her 
commands and admonitions respecting every thing that was religious and holy ; 
and. in a particular manner, about the duty of praying to God in secret, and, also, 
caused him and her other children to retire and pray together, and for one an 
other on the Lord's Days at noon. 

While a school-hoy for a course of years, he and some of his companions, by 
their own proposal to each other, under the encouragement of their parents, and, 
with the consent of their preceptor, used to spend a part of Saturdays in the after- 
noon in prayer together at the house of Mr. Colman, which continued until their 
leaving the school and going to college : Mather, Baker, Prout, Pool, Townsend 
were of this number ; and, for the most part, behaved decently and seriously in 
these early exercises of piety and devotion. 

After his admission into college, he grew in piety and learning, and in favor 
with God and man. He performed all his exercises to good acceptance ; many of 
them had the applauses of his learned tutor, Mr. John Leverett. He was much 
animated to the study of the liberal sciences, and to make the utmost improve- 
ment in them from the shining example of the excellent Pemherton, who was a 
year before him in stimding. To be next to him seems to bound his ambition 
until he passed his degrees of Batehelor and Master of Arts, which he did in the 
years 1692 and 95, under the Presidentship of the memorable Dr. Increase 
Mather. When he pronounced the public Oration, on taking his Master's De- 
gree, his thin and slender appearance, his soft and delicate voice, and the red 
spots in his cheeks, caused the audience in general to conclude him bordering on 
a consumption, and to be designed but for a few weeks of life. 

From the bright but brief career of young Prout, and from the 
" red spots " on the cheeks of Xha gifted Cohnan, we fear that Mr. 
Cheever did not always temper the undue ardor of his pupils. 



Of Mr. Cheever's discipline, we may form some notion from the 
testimony of his pupils. The following lines from Coote's "English 
Schoolmaster," a famous manual* of that day in England, may have 
been the substance of his " school code." 


' My child and scholar take good heed 
unto the words that here are set, 
And see thou do accordingly, 
or else be sure thou shall be beat. 

First, I command thee God to serve, 
then, to thy parents, duty yield ; 

Unto all men be courteous, 
and mannerly, in town and field. 

Your cloaths unbuttoned do not use, 
let not your hose ungartered be ; 

Have handkerchief in readiness, 
Wash hands and face, or see not me. 

If broken-hos'd or shoc'd you go, 

or slovenly in your array, 
Without a girdle, or untrust, 

then you and I must have a fray. 

If that thou cry, or talk aloud, 

or books do rend, or strike with knife ; 
Or laugh, or play unlawfully, 

then you and I must be at strife. 

If that you curse, miscall, or swear, 
if that you pick, filch, steal, or lye ; 

If you forget a scholar's part, 
then must you sure your points untye. 

If that to school you do not go, 
when time doth call you to the same ; 

Or, if you loiter in tne streets, 
when we do meet, then look for blame. 

Lose not your books, ink-horns, or pens, 

nor girdle, garters, hat or band, 
Let shooes be tyed, pin shirt-band close, 

keep well your hands at any hand. 

Wherefore, my child, behave thyself, 

so decently, in all assays, 
That thou may'st purciiase parents love, 

and eke obtain thy master's praise." 

Although he was doubtless a strict disciplinarian, it is evident, from 
the affectionate manner in which his pupils, Mather, Barnard, and 
Colman speak of him, and the traditionary reputation which has de- 
scended with his name, that his venerable presence was accompanied 
by " an agreeable mixture of majesty and sweetness, both in his voice 
and countenance," and that he secured at once obedience, reverence, 
and love. 

* The following is the title-page of this once famous school-book, printed from a copy of 
the fortieth edition, presented to the author of this sketch, by George Livermore, Esq., of 
Cambridge, Mass. 

" THE 



Teaching all his Scholars, of what age so ever, the most easy, short, and perfect order of 
distinct Reading, and true Writing our English-tongue, that hath 
ever yet been known or published by any. 
And further also, teacheth a direct course, how many unskilful person may easily both under- 
fctand any hard English words, which they shall in Scriptures, Sermons, "or else-where hear 
or read ; and also be made able to use the same aptly themselves ; and generally whatsoever 
is necessary to be known for the English speech : so that he which hath this book only need- 
eth to buy no other to make him fit from his Letters to the Grammar- School, for aii 
Apprentice, or any other private use, so far as concerneth English : And 
therefore it is made not only for Children, though the first book 
be meer childish for them, but also for all other ; especially 
for those that are ignorant in the Latin Tongue. 
In the next Page the School-Master hangeth forth his Table to the view of all beholders, set- 
ting forth some of the chief Commodities of his profession. 
Devised for thy sake that wantest any part of this skill ; by Edward Coote, Master of the Free- 
school ill Saint Edmund' a- Bury. 
Perused and approved by puhlick Authority; and now the 40 time Imprinted: toith certain 
Copies to icrite by, at the end of this Book, added. 
Printed by A. M. and Ji. R. for the Company of Stationers, I6S0 


Of the text- books used by Mr. Clieever, — to what extent the New 
England Primer had superseded the Royal Primer of Great Britain, 
— whether James Hodder encountered as sharp a competition as any 
of the Arithmeticians of this day, — whether Lawrence Eachard, or 
G. Meriton, gave aid in the study of Geography at that early day, we 
shall not speak in this place, except of one of which he was author.* 

During his residence at New Haven he composed The Accidence, 
"^ short introduction to the Latin Tongue,'^ which, prior to 1790, 
had passed through twenty editions, and was for more than a century 
the hand-book of most of the Latin scholars of New England. We 
have before us a copy of the 20th edition, with the following title 
page : 

"a swort 



For the Use of llie 

Loicer Forms in the Latin School. 

Uemg (he 


Abridffed and compiled in that most easy and accurate Method, wherein the famous Mr. 

EzEKiEL Chekvbh taught, and which Jit- lound the most advantageous, by Seventy Year's 


To which is added, 

A Cataloque of Irregular Nouns, and Vtrbs, disposed Alphabetically. 

The Twentieth Edition. 

S A L K M : 

Printed and Sold by Samuel Hall, mdcclxxxv." 

This little book embodies Mr. Cheever's method of teaching the 
rudiments of the Latin language, and was doubtless suggested or 
abridged from some larger manual used in the schools of London at 
the time, with alterations suggested by his own scholarly attainments, 
and his experience as a teacher. It has l>een much admired by good 
judges for its clear, logical, and comprehensive exhibition of the first 
principles and leading inflexions of the language. The Rev. Samuel 
Bentley, D. D., of Salem, (born 1758, and died 1819), a great anti- 
quarian and collector of school-books, in some "Notes for an Address 
on Education," after speaking of Mr. Cheever's labors at Ipswich as 
mainly instrumental in placing that town, "in literature and popula- 
tion, above all the towns of Essex County," remarks: — 

" His Accidence was the wonder of the ;jge, and though, as his biojnrrapher 
and pupil, Dr. Cotton Mather, observed, it had not excluded the oi-iginal grammar, 
it passed through eighteen editions before the Ruvohition, and had been used as 
generally as any elementary work ever known. The familiar epistles of thia 
master to his son, minister of JMarblehead, are all worthy of the age of Erasmus, 
and of the days of Aseham. 

"Before Mr. Cheever's Accidence obtained, Mr. John Brinsley's method had 
obtained, and this was published in 16] 1, three years before Cheever was born 
It is in question and answer, and was undoubtedly known to Cheever, who has 
availed himself of the expression, but has most ingeniously reduced it to the form 

* Unless some one, with more abundant material in hand, will undertake the task, we shall 
prepare ere long a Paper on the Early School Books of this country, published prior to 1800, 
with an approximation, at least, to the number issued since that date. 


of his Aeciclence, — 131 small 4to pages to 79 small 12mo., with the ad<lition of 
an excellent Table of Irregular Verbs from the great work of the days of Roger 

We have not been able to obtain an earlier edition of this little 
work than the one above quoted, or to ascertain when, or by whom, 
it was first printed.f An edition was published so late as 1838, under 
the title of Cheever's Latin Accidence, with an announcement on 
the title-page that it was " used in the schools of this country for 
more than a hundred and fifty years previous to the close of the last 
century." This edition is accompanied by letters from several eminent 
scholars and teachers highly commendatory of its many excellencies, 
and hopeful of its restoration to its former place in the schools. 
President Quincy, of Harvard College, says : " It is distinguished for 
simplicity, comprehensiveness, and exactness; and, as a primer or first 
elementary book, I do not believe it is exceeded by any other work, 
in respect to those important qualities." Samuel Walker, an eminent 
instructor of the Latin language, adds : "The Latin Accidence, which 
was the favorite little book of our youthful days, has probably done 
more to inspire young minds with the love of the study of the Latin 
language than any other work of the kind since the first settlement 
of the country. I have had it in constant use for my pupils, when- 
ever it could be obtained, for more than fifty years, and have found it 
to be the best book, for beginnei-s in the study of Latin, that has come 
within my knowledge." 

*Mr .John Brinsley, author of the Latin Accidence referred to, was the author of a little 
work on English Grammar, printed in 1622, with the following title: — 


For Our grammar 


A faithful and most comfortable incouragement for laying of a sure foundation of a good 

Learning in our Schooles, and for prosperous building thereupon. 
More Specially for all those of the inferior sort, and all ruder countries and places ; namely, 
for Ireland, Wales, Virginia, with the Sommer Islands, and for their more speedie at- 
taining of our English tongue by the same labour, that all may speake one 
and the same Language. And witliall, for the helping of all such 
as are desirous speedlie to recover that which they 
had formerlie got in the Grammar Schooles : 
and to proceed aright therein, for the 
perpetuall benefit of these 
our Nations, and of 
the Churches 
of Christ. 
Printed by Richard Field for Thomas Man. dwelling in Paternoster Row, at the Sign of 
the T'llcot, 1622; amall ito. 
Epistle, dedicatory, and table of contents, pp. 1 c84 and Examiner's Censure, pp. 2. 
This rare treatise is in the Library of George Brinley, Esq., of Hartford, Conn, 
t Since the above paragraph was in type, we have seen four other editions of the Accidence 
the earliest of which is the seventh, printed in Boston, by B. Edes & S. Gill, for I. Edwards 
& I. and T. Leverett, in Cornhill, MDCCIV. For an opportunity of consulting these editions 
an original edition of Dr. Cotton Mather's Funeral Sermon on the occasion of Chee- 
ver's death, and several other authorities referred to in this sketch, we are indebted to George 
Brinley, Esq., of Hartford, who has one of the largest and choicest collection of books and 
pamphlets, printed in New England, or relating to its affairs, civil and ecclesiastical,— state, 
town, church, and individual, to be found in the country. 


Mr. Cheever was also the author of a small treatise of thirty- t\yo 
pages, of which, the only copy we have seen [in Harvard University 
Library] was published forty-nine years after his death, and entitled — 

"Scripture Prophecies Explained 



I. On the Restitution of all things, 

II. On St. John's first Resurrection, 

III. On the personal coining of Jesus Christ, 

As commencing at the beginning of the MILLENNIUM, described in the Apocalypse. 

By EzEKiEL Cheever, 

In former days Master of the Grammar School in Boston. 

• We have a more sure word of Prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, tc' 


Printed and sold by Green & Russell, at their Printing Office, in Queen-street. MDCCLVII.** 

The author concludes his last Essay as follows : — 

" Lastly. To conclude, this personal coming of Christ at or before the begin- 
ning of the thousand years, is no other but the second coming of Christ, and 
great day of judgment, which the Scripture sjx-aks of, and all Christians believe, 
and wait for, only there are several works to be performed in the several parts of 
this great day. The first works, in the first part or beginning of this day, is to 
raise the Saints ; destroy his enemies with temporal destruction ; to set up his 
kingdom ; to rule and reign on the earth, with his raised and then living Saints, 
a thousand years ; after that, in the latter part of the day, to destroy Gog and 
Magog : To enter upon the last general judgment, raising the wicked, judging 
them according to their works, and casting them into the lake of fire, which is 
the second death. All this, from first to last, is but one day of judgment; that 
great and terrible day of the Lord, and is but one coming, which is his second, 
as we plead for. After this, the work being finished, Christ will deliver up his 
mediatory kingdom to his Father, and, himself, become a subject, that GOD may 
be all in all. With this interpretation, all the Scriptures alleged, and many 
more, will better agree and harmonize in a clear and fair way, not crossing any 
ordinary rules given of interpreting Scripture than in restraining Christ's personal 
coming to the work and time of the last judgment. And, though many of these 
Scriptures may have a spiritual meaning, and, may be already in part fulfilled, 
which I deny not, yet that will not hinder, but that they may have a literal sense 

Of Mr. Cheever's personal history, after he removed to Boston, we 
have been successful in gathering but few particulars not already 
published. From a petition addressed by him to Sir Edmund An- 
dross, in 1687, some seventeen years after he removed to Boston, it 
appears, that he was then in prime working order as a teacher — 
still enjoying his "wonted abilities of mind, health of body, vivacity 
of spirit, and delight in his work." The following is the petition 
copied from the Hutchinson Papers in the Massachusetts Historical 
Society and printed by Mr. Gould : 

" To His Excellency, Sir Edmund Andross, Knight, Governor and Captain 
General of His Majesty^s territories and dominions in New England. 
" The humble petition of Ezekiel Cheever of Boston, schoolmaster, sheweth 
that your poor petitioner hath near fifty years been employed in the work and 
office of a public Grammar-schoolmaster in several places in this country. With 
what acceptance and success, I submit to the judgment of those that are able to 
testify. Now seeing that God is pleased mercifully yet to continue my wonted 
abilities of mind, health of body, vivacity of spirit, delight in my work, which alone 
I am any way fit and capable of, and whereby I have my outward subsistence, — 
I most humbly entreat your Excellency, that according to your former kindness 


BO often manifested, I may by your Excellency's favor, allowance and encourage- 
ment, still be continued in my i)resent place. And whereas there is due to me 
about fifty-five pounds for my labors past, and the former way of that part of my 
maintenance is thought good to be altered, — I with all submission beseech your 
Excellency, that you would be pleased to give order for my due satisfaction, tho 
want of which would fall heavy upon me in my old age, and my children also, 
who are otherwise poor enough. And your poor petitioner shall ever pray, &c. 
Your Excellency's most humble servant, 

EzEKiEii Cheever." 

He died,* according to Dr. Mather, " on Saturday morning, August 
21, 1708 — in the ninety-fourth year of his age ; after he had been a 
skillful, painful, faithful schoolmaster for seventy years, and had the 
singular favor of Heaven, that though he had usefully spent his life 
among children, yet he was not become twice a child^ but held his 
abilities, in an unusual degree, to the very last," — " his intellectual 
force as little abated as his natural." It was his singular good fortune 
to have lived as an equal among the very founders of New England, 
with them of Boston, and Salem, and New Haven, — to have taught 
their children, and their children's children, unto the third and fourth 
e^eneration — and to have lingered in the recollections of his pupils 
and their children, the model and monument, the survivor and 
representative of the Puritan and Pilgrim stock, down almost to the 
beginning of the present century. 

President Stiles of Yale College, in his Literary Diary, 2oth April 
1772, mentions seeing the "Rev. and aged Mr. Samuel Maxwell, of 
Warren," R. I., in whom " I have seen a man who had been ac- 
quainted with one of the original and first settlers of New England, 
now a rarity ."f " He told me he well knew the famous Grammar 
schoolmaster, Mr. E. Cheever of Boston, author of the Accidence ; 
that he wore a long white beard, terminating in a point ; that when 
he stroked his beard to the point, it was a sign for the boys to stand 
clear." In another entry, made on the l7th of July 1774, Dr. Stiles, 
after noting down several dates in the life of Mr. Cheever, adds, " I 
have seen those who knew the venerable saint, particularly the Rev. 
John Barnard, of Marblehead, who was fitted for college by him, and 
entered 1698." Rev. Dr. Mather, in 1708, speaks of him not only as 
his master, seven and thirty years ago, but, also, " as master to my 
betters, no less than seventy years ago ; so long ago, that I must even 
mention my father's tutor for one of them." 

• " Venerable," says Governor Hutchinson, in his History of Massachusetts, (Vol. H., page 
175, Note), " not merely for his great age, 94, but for having been the schoolmaster of most 
of the principal gentlemen in Boston, who were then upon the stage. He is not the only 
master who kept his lamp longer lighted than otherwise it would have been by a supply of 
oil from his scholars." 

t There is now living in Bangor, Maine, " Father Sawyer," who was born in Hebron, Conn., 
in Nov., 1755, and who has preached the gospel for 70 years. He knew Rev. John Barnard, 
of Marblehead, a pupil of Mr. Cheever. These three persons connect the present with the 
first generation of New England. 


He was buried, according to an entry of Judge Sewall in his 
manuscript Diary,* under date of August 23, "from the school-house. 
The Governor, Councillors, Ministers, Justices, Gentlemen being there. 
Mr. Williams (his successor in the school) made a handsome oration 
in his honor." 

* We are indebted to Rev. Samuel Sewall of Burlington, Mass., for the following transcript 
from the manuscript Diary of Judge Sewall : 

" Feria septima. August 21st (1708). Mr. Edward Oakes tells me, Mr. Chiever died this 
Jast night. N. He wai born January 25th 1614. Came over to New England 1637, to Boston, 
land to New Haven 1638. Married in the Fall, and began to teach School, which work he was 
constant in till now: first at New Haven; then at Ipswich ; then at Charlestown ; then at 
Boston, wither he came in 1673 ; so that he has labored in that calling skillfully, diligently, 
constantly, religiously, seventy years— a rare instance of Piety, Health, Strength, and Service, 
ableness. The welfare of the Province was much upon his spirit. He abominated PertKiga.^' 
The Rev. Mr Sewall, in communicating the above transcript, adds the following remarks 
by the way of po.st8cript. ''Though Judge Sewall wrote the Sentence underscored la«t, yet 
it was not as what he conceived to be the climax of the characteristic excellence he had 
ascribed to good Master Cheever, but as a fact which happened to come into his mind as he 
was writing, and which he regarded as a recommendation of Mr. Cheever. In his prejudice 
against Periwigs, he was not singular. Such men as Rev. John Eliot was alike opposed to 
them ; and Rev. Solomon Stoddard of Northampton wrote against them." 

The assault of "the learned and reverend Mr. Stoddard," of Northampton, on Periwigs, 
■was in a letter addressed to a distinguished citizen, no other than Chief Justice Sewall, tind 
published at Boston, with other matters, in a pamphlet, in 1722, entitled ^^ An answer to aotne 
cases of Conscience respecting the Country." After disposing of some grave questions 
touching the oppression of the poor and ignorant by the knowing and crafty, in selling at an 
exorbitant profit, in depreciating the currency of the country, in taking advantage of the 
necessities of a man in debt, the author passes to the consideration of the lawfulness in the 
light of scripture, of men wearing their hair long, or of cutting U off entirely, for the pur- 
pose of substituting the hair of other persons, and even of horses and goats. " Although I 
cannot condemn them universally, yet, in wearing them, there is abundance of sin. /\rsr, 
Vrhcn men do wear them, needlessly, in compliance with the fashion. Secondly, when they 
do wear them in such a ruffianly way as it would be utterly unlawful to wear their own hair 
in. Some of the wigs are of unreasonable length ; and, generally, they are extravagant as to 
their bushiness." He not only condemns the wig because it is ''wasteful as to cost, but. be- 
cause it is contrary to gravity." »'It makes the wearers of them look as if they were more 
disposed to court a maid than to bear upon their hearts the weighty concernments of God's 

But, Mr. Stoddard and Mr. Cheever were not alone in their abhorence of wearing peri- 
wigs. The Apostle Eliot, talked, prayed, and preached for its suppression. The legislative 
authorities of Massachusetts denounced " the practice of mens wearing their own or other's 
hair made into periwigs." It was made a test of godliness and church-membership. In 
spite of the authority given to the custom by William Penn, who, according to his biographer, 
" had four wigs with him, which cost him twenty pounds," the Friends, in their monthly 
session, at Hampton, in 1721, made this decision : " It was concluded by this meeting that the 
wearing of extravagant, superfluous wigs is altogether contrary to truth," In the second 
church of Newbury, in 1752, one Richard Bartlett was " dealt with " : f\rst, our said brother 
refuses communion with the church for no other reason, but because the pastor wears a wig, 
and because the church justifies him in it ; setting up his own opinion in opposition to the 
church, contrary to that humility which becomes a Christian. Second, and farther, in an 
unchristian manner, he censures and condemns both pastor and church as anti-Christian on 
the aforesaid account, and he sticks not, from time to time, to assert, with the greatest assur- 
ance, that all who wear wigs unless they repent of thiU particular sin, before they die, will 
certainly be damned, which we judge to be a piece of uncharitable and sinful rashness." 
This custom prevailed in England and France, as well as in this country, and there, as well 
as here, provoked the attacks of the pulpit and the satirist, but gradually disappeared, or gave 
place to other fashions of the toilet, if not quite so monstrous, full as expensive and as absurd. 
♦* There is no accounting for taste." See Felt's Customs of New England. 


Rev. Dr. Cotton Mather " improved the occasion" of the death of this 
" faithful, successful, venerable, and beloved teacher," by preaching a 
Funeral Sermon, ia which he set forth in his own peculiar pedantic 
manner and style, the duty of towns and parents to provide schools, 
employ, pay, and honor competent teachers, and look diligently after 
the good education of children. This sermon, which the author pro- 
nounces A doing of Justice, was printed with the following title page. 

Corderius Americanus. 



And what may Hopefully be Attempted, for the Hope of the FL OC K. 




The Ancient and Honourable MASTER of the FREE-SCHOOL in Boston. 

Who left off, but when Mortality took him off, in August^ 1708, 

the Ninety Fourth Year of his Age. 

With an ELEGY and EPITAPH upon him. 

By one that teas once a. Scholar to him. 

Vester [CHEEVERUSJ cum sic moritur, non moritur 

BOSTON, Printed by John Allen, for Nicholas Boone, at the Sign of the Bible in 
Cornhill, near the Corner of School-street. 1708. 

From this pamphlet, now rarely to be met with even in the col- 
lections of antiquarians and Historical Societies, we proceed to give 
some extracts, both for the light they throw on the character and ser- 
vices of Ezekiel Oheever, and for the substantial and wholesome doc- 
trine, which is as good now as it was a hundred and fifty years ago, 
when it was uttered by Dr. Mather. His motives for publishing the Ser- 
mon and Essay, are thus set forth in the " Historical Introduction" : 

" DUTY to the Merit and Memory of my Departed MASTER, is now in its 
Operation. The Fifth Commandment well considered will demand such a Duty. 
Vv'hen Quirinus made a Marble Monument for his Master, there was this Effect 
of it, Jnvisunt Locum Siudiosi Juvenes frequenter.^ ut hoc Exemplo Edocti, 
quantum Discipuli ipsi praceptorihus fuis debeant, perpetuo meminisse velint. 
Scholars that saw it, Learnt from the Sight what Acknowledgments were due 
from Scholars to their Masters. I with my little feeble Essay for Mine, may in any 
measure animate the Gratitude of any Scholars to their Well-deserving Tutors. 

A dae C.ire about a Funeral for the Dead, among the Jews had that Phrase 
for it ; A Bcstoioing of Mercy. But the Sermon which I have Employ'd on 
the Funeral of my Master, must be called ; A Doing of Justice. And I am 
very much misinformed, if this were not the General Voice of all the Auditory. 

After apologizing for the imperfection of his work, and giving the 
principal incidents in the life of Cheever, he concludes the Intro- 
duction as follows : 

" It is a Common Adage in the Schools of the Jews ; A just inan never dies, 
till there be horn in his room, one that is like him. So Grown a Town as 
Boston, is capable of honourably Supporting more than one Grammar- School. 
And it were to be wished, That several as able as our CHEEVER, might arise 
in his room, to carry on an Excellent Education in them. Our Glorious LORD 
can make such men. But, Oh ! That SCHOOLS were more Encouraged, 
throughout the Country ! 

I remember, the Jewish Masters have a Dispute about the Reasons of the 
Destruction of Jerusalem. And among the rest the Judgment of R. Menona, 
was ; It had not been destroy'' d, hut for their not minding to bring up their 
Children in the School. Verily, There cannot be a more Threatning Symptom 
of Destruction upon hs», than there would be in this thing 5 If we should fall 
into the Folly of Not Minding to bring up our Childrtn in the School. 


"The Pastors of the Churches must more bestir themselves, O Men of God, 
Awake ; And let the Cares of our ELIOT* for his Roxbury^^ be a pattern for you I" 

The doctrine of the Discourse [^That saving wisdom is to be fetched 
from the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, and that the early knowl- 
edge of the Holy Scriptures, is the way to he betimes made wise unto 
salvation^ is drawn from 2. Timothy, iii chapter, and loth verse — 
From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to 
make thee wise unto salvation. The preacher enlarges on the " inex- 
pressible consequence" of the right education of children. "Unworthy 

* Dr. Matlier, in the Magnalia, in his Life of Eliot, speaking of "his cares about the chil- 
dren of his people," remarks : " I have cause to remember with what an hearty, fervent, zeal- 
ous application, he addressed himself, when, in the name of the neighbour, pastors, and 
churches, he gave me the right hand of their/ellotcship, at my ordination, and said. Brother, 
art thou a lover of the Lord Jesus Christ 7 Then, 1 pray, feed his lambs." Besides his la- 
bours direct and abundant for the catechetical and direct religious instruction of children by 
himself, as their pastor, and, through their parents, " he showed his regard for the welfare of 
the poor children under his charge by his perpetual resolution and activity to support a good 
school in the town that belonged unto him. A grammar-scAoo/ he would always have upon 
the place, whatever it cost him ; and, he importuned all other places to have the like. I can- 
not forget the ardour with which I once heard him pray, in a synod of these churches, which 
met at Boston, to consider how the miscarriages which were among us might be prevented ; I 
say, with what fervour he uttered an expreasion to this purpose. Lord, for schools everywhere 
among us! That our schools may flourish ! That every member of this assembly may go 
home and procure a good school to be encouraged in the town where he lives ! That, before we 
die, we may be so happy as to see a good school encouraged in every plantation of the country. 
God BO blessed his endeavours that Roxbury could not live quietly without a free school in the 
town ; and the issue of it has been one thing which has made me almost put the title of Schola 
JUustris upon that little nursery ; that is, that Roxbury has afforded more scholars, first for 
the coUedge, and then for the publick, than any town of its bigness, or, if I mistake not, of 
twice its bigness, in all New-England. From the spring of the school at Roxbury, there have 
run a large number of the streams which have made glad this whole city of God. I perswade 
my self that the good people of Roxbury will for ever scorn to begrutch t)je cost, or to permit 
the death of a school which God has made such an honour to them ; and. this the rather be- 
cause their deceased Eliot has left them a fair part of l\is own e<!tate, for the maintaining of 
the school in Roxbury; and, I hope, or, at least, I wish, that the ministers of New-England 
may be as ungainsayably importunate with their people as Mr. Eliot was with his, for schools 
which may seasonably tinge the young souls of the rising generation. A want of education 
for them is the blackest and saddest of all the bad omens that are upon us." 

• Under the lead of the Rev. John Eliot, sundry inhabitants of Rojcbury, in 1645, only fifteen 
years after the first settlement of the town, bound themselves and their estates for ever for 
the payment of a certain sum yearly for the support of a Free School. In 1669, Mr. Thomas 
Bill bequeathed a lai-ge estate, in Roxbury, to Mr. John Eliot, " in trust for the maintenance 
of a school-master and a Free School, for the teaching and instructing of poor men's chil- 
dren." From these beginnings grew up the " Grammar School in the Easterly Part of Rox- 
bury," whose interesting history has been written by Richard G. Parker. This school 
numbers among its early teachers several men who afterwards became eminent among tho 
divines, lawyers, and statesmen of the country. Among them we find, in 1760, the name ol 
Joseph Warren, who, in 1776, went up on Bunker Hill, to die for his country. In 1716, in a 
Preamble to an order relating to this school, in the House of Representatives, it is set forth 
" that the said Free School is one of the most ancient famous schools in the Province, where 
by the favor ol God more persons have had their education, who have been and now are 
worthy Ministers to the everlasting Gospel than in any town of the like bigness." In 1674, 
the Ffeoffees covenant with John Prudden to keep the school, in which said Prudden on his 
part engages " to use his best endeavors, both by precept and example, to instruct in all 
Rcholasticall, morall, and theologicall discipline," and the Ffeoffees, on theirs, to allow him in 
lecompence for teaching their children [he being at liberty to receive other scholars on pay], 
twenty-five pounds, " to be paid three quarters in Indian Corn or peas, and the other fourth 
part in barley, and good and merchantable, at price current in the country rate." In fitting 
up the school with " benches and formes, with tables for the Sq^ollars to rite," in 1652, "a 
desk to put the Dictionary on " was provided for. 


to be parents, most worthy to be esteemed rather monsters than 
parents are they, who are not sohcitous to give their children an 
agreeable and religious education." That children may " learn to 
read the Holy Scriptures ; and this as early as may be," he exclaims 
energetically, in capitals and italics — "to school therefore with 
them ! Let them not be loitering at home, or playing abroad, when 
they should be at school. Be more concerned for their schooUiuj 
than for their cloathing. If there be any, as I suppose there cannot 
be many so necessitous, as to call for it, let us in this town go on with 
our Charity School." In reply to inquiry who it is that is to teach 
the children — " Come all hands to the work !" " The Pastors musl 
not nesflect the children of the flock. The charire of our Lord unto 
them is — Feed my Lambs. It is thrice proposed as if it were at least 
one third part of the pastoral charge." Is there not a disposition 
in our day to throw this whole charge upon teachers ? 

" The MASTER and MISTRESS, in the SCHOOL, may do much in this 
Noble Work. We read, The Little Ones have their Angels. Truly, to Teach 
the Little Ones^ the Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, and make them Wise 
unto Salvation, it is a stately work; I had almost call'd it; A Work for Angels. 
It is an Hard Work to keep a School ; and hardly ever duly Recompensed. I 
suppose, It is easier to be at the Plough all day, than in the School, But it is a 
Good Work: It is Gods Plough; and God speed it! I would not have you 
weary of it. Melchior Adam did well to call it, Molestissimam, sed Deo longc 
gratissimam Functionem; A work, tho' very Tiresome, and Troublesome to the 
Flesh, yet most highly Acceptable to God. Go on with it Chearfully ; And 
often Teach the Children something of the Holy Scriptures ; often drop some 
Honey out of that Ruck upon them. Who can tell, but you may Teach them 
the Things that shall save their Souls, and they shall bless God for you and with 
you, throughout Eternal Ages ? Every time a New Child comes to the School, 
Oh I why should you not think ! Here my glorious LORD sends me another 
Object.^ on which I may do some thing., to advance His Kingdom in the World I 

But ; Lastly, and yet First of all, O PARENTS Arise ; This matter chiefly 
belongs unto you ; we also will be with you. None, I say. None, are so much 
concerned, as Parents to look after it, that their Children be taught the Knowl- 
edge of the Holy Scriptures. Our famous King Elfred, procured a Law, That 
every man who had but as much as Two Hides of Land, should bring up his 
Children to Learning, till Fifteen Years of Age at least ; that so they might 
Know Christ, and Live Happily ; Else, he said. They were but Beasts and 
Sots. I am to press it, That Parents give their Children all the Learning they 
can ; especially that which will bring them to Know Christ, and Live Happily.''^ 

After addressing himself particularly to the children and teachers 

of his auditory, he concludes his discourse by the following " lengthy " 

but " reasonable corollary : " 

" Worthy of Honour are the TEACHERS that Convey Wisdom unto our Chil- 
dren ; Worthy of Double Honour the Happy Instruments that Convey Saving 
Wisdom to them ! There are some whose peculiar Profession it is, to assist the 
Education of our Children ; and it is therefore their Endeavour to give them a 
Religious Education. Their Employment is to bestow Useful and Various 
Learning on our Children ; but they make their Employment, a precious Ad- 
vantage to Learn them the Holy Scriptures, and make them Wise for Eternity. 

These our SCHOOL-MASTERS, deserve a great Encouragement. We are 
not Wise for our Children, if we do not greatly Encourage them. 

The PARTICULAR PERSONS, who have their Children, in the Tutelage 
of Skilful and Careful School-Masters, ought to make them suitable Recom- 
pences. Their Stipends are generally far short of their Deserts. They deserve 


Additional Comppnsations. Their pains are not small. "What they Do is very 
(ji'cat. And surely our Children are very dear to us; I need not quote £uri- 
pides to tell you, That they are as the very Life and Soul^ unto all Mankind. I 
can't but observe it with a just Indignation ; to Feed our Children, to Cloath our 
Children, To do any thing for the Bodies of our Children ; or perhaps to Teaeh 
them some Trifle at a Dancing School, scarcely worth their Learning, we count 
no Expence too much ; At the same time to have the Minds of our Children 
Enriched with the most valuable Knowledge, here, To what purpose ? is the 
cry: a little Expence, how heavily it goes off"! My Brethren, These things ought 
not so to be. Well-taught Children are certainly very much to be accounted of. 
When the Mother of the Gracchi was ask'd for the sight of her Ornaments, how 
instructively did she present her Two Sons brought up in Learning and Vertue, 
as the brightest of all her Ornaments I If we were duly sensible, how vast a 
oomfort it is, how vast a Concern, to have Well-taught Children, we should 
study all the ways imaginable, to express our Thankfulness unto the Teachers 
of them. And it will not be coniplain'd, That a Meccenas is to be no where found, 
but in Horace's Poetry. The Christian Euiperour Gratian, One of the Best 
men, that ev( r SwayM the Roman Scepter, conferr'd Riches and Honours on his 
Master Ansonius, and he sent him that agreeable Compliment with them ; Sir, 
I have paid xchat J Ow^d, and I still owe what I have paid. Language agree- 
able to the Spii-it of Christianity I Yes, a Zeno, that was a Stranger to it, yet 
has this recorded in his Commendation, That he would give his Master as much 
again as the wages he ask'd of him. I hope, ho won't be the only One, that 
shall have such a thing spoken of him ! 

And the more Liberal Provision the PUBLICK does make for Industrious, 
AVell-aceomplished, Well-disposed School-masters, the more is the Publick Wis- 
dom Testihed & Propagated ! Amniicsnus Marcellinus, the Historian, tho' a 
great Admirer of Julian & of Paganism, yet condemns his prohibition of 
School-masters unto the Christians : Illud autem inclemens obruendujn perenni 
silentio, quod arcebat docere, Magistros Rhetoricos et Grammaticos, Ritua 
Christiani Cultores. But, Syrs, If you do not Encourage your School-masters, 
you do a part of Julianism, and as bad as Prohibit them. Certainly, If some- 
thing of Julianism did not prevail too much among us, (which among a People 
of our Piofesjiion is highly scandalous,) we might ere now have seen, besides the 
petty Schools of every Town, a Grammar- School at the Head Town of every 
County, and an Able School-viastcr with an ample Salary, the Shepherd in it ; 
a Thing so often, so often unsuccessfully petition'd for ! We hear Good Words 
now and then spoken for the Tribe of Levi. I desire, to speak one for the tribe 
of SIMEON. The Simeonites were the School- masters that were Scattered 
in Israel. I assure my self, Tliat Ours, do watch against the Anger which is 
fierce, and the Wrath which is cruel ; and that they use not Instruments of Cru- 
elty in their Habitations ; but prudently study the Tempers of the Children, 
they have to deal withal. Tho' Moses left them out of his Blessing ; [the Tiibe 
not having then done any thing since Jacobs dying Oracles, to signalize them.] 
Yet our Glorious JESUS, has a Blessing for them. They Serve Him wonder- 
fully. His People will also Bless them, and Bless God for them. And so will I 
this Day do for MY MASTER, in this Congregation of the Lord. 

SCHOOL-MASTERS that have Used the Office well, purchase to themselves^ 
a Good Esteem to Out-live their Death, as well as Merit for themselves a good 
Support while they Live. 'Tis a Justice to them, that they should be had in Ever- 
lasting Remembrance ; And a Place and a Name among those Just men, does 
particularly belong to that Ancient and Honourable Man ; a Master in our 
Israel; who was with us, the last Time of my Standing here; but is lately 
Translated unto the Colledge of Blessed Spirits, in the Mansions, where the 
FIRST RESURRECTION is Waited and Longed for. Allow me the Expression ; 
For I Learn't it of my Hebrew INIasters, among whom, 'tis a phrase for the Death 
of Learned and Worthy men, Requisiti sunt in Academiam Ccelestem. 

Verrius the Master to the Nephews of Augustus, had a Statue Erected for 
him; And Antonius obtained from the Senate, a Statue for his Master Pronto. 
I am sorry that Mine has none. And Cato counted it more glorious than any 
Statve, to have it asked, Why has he None 1 But in the grateful memories of 
his Scholars, there have been and will be Hundreds Erected for him. 

Under him we Learnt an Oration, made by Tally, in praise of his own Master; 
namely that, Pro Archia Pacta. A Pagan shall not out-do us, in oar Gratitude 


unto our Master. There was a famous Christian in tlie Primitive Times, who 
wrote a whole Boole, in praise of his Master /ftcroM^us; Eutituling it, Trtpt r& 
(laxapiH Ie^oOeu Concerning the Blessed Ilierotheus. And if 1 now say a few 
things, Concerning the Blessed CilEliVER, no man who thinks well of Gra- 
titude, or likes well to see the Fifth Commandment observed, will censure it. 

In the Imperial Law^ we read, that Good Grammarians^ having tiiught with 
diligence Twenty Years^ were to have Special Honour eonferr'd upon them. I 
Challenge for INIY MASTER,, more than a Treble portion of that Special 
Honour. But, Oh, Let it all pass thro' him, up to the Glorious LORD, who 
made him to be what he was ! 

His Eminent Abilities for the Work, which rendred him so long Useful iu 
his Generation, were universally acknowledged. The next edition of, Tran- 
quillus de Claris Grammaticis^ may well enough bring him into the Catalogue, 
and acknowledge him a Master. He was not a Meer Grammarian; yet he 
was a Pure One. And let no Envy Misconstrue it, if I say. It was noted, that 
when Scholars came to be Admitted into the Colledge^ they who came from the 
Cheeverian Education^ were generally the most unexceptionable. What 
Exception shall be made. Let it fall upon /ttm, that is now speaking of it. 

He flourished so in this Great Work, of bringing our Sons to be Men, 
that it gave him an opportunity to send forth many Bezaleels and Aholiabs for 
the Service of the Tabernacle ; and Men fitted for all Good Employments. He 
that was my Master, Seven and Thirty Years ago, was a Master to many of my 
Betters, no less than Seventy Years ago 5 so long ago, that I must even mention 
my Fathers Tutor for one of them. 

And as it is written for the Lasting Renown of the Corderius, whose Colloquies 
he taught us ; That the Great CxVLVIN" had been a Scholar to him ; So this our 
AMERICAN Corderius had many Scholars that were a Crown unto him ; yea, 
many that will be his Crown in the Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his Com- 
ing^ yea, many that were got into the Heavenly World before him. And the 
mention of the Heavenly World, leads me to that which I would principally take 
notice of. His PIETY, I say. His PIETY ; and his care to infuse Documents 
of Piety into the Scholars of his Charge, that he might carry them with him to 
the Heavenly World. When Aristotle set up a Monument for his Master Plato, 
he inscribed upon it, this Testimony, HE WAS ONE WHOM ALL GOOD 
MASTER went thro' his Hard Work with so much Delight in it, as a work for 
GOD and CHRIST, and His People: He so constantly Prayed with us every 
Day, Catechis''d us every Week, and let fall such Holy Counsels upon us ; He 
took so many Occasions, to make Speeches unto us, that should make us Afraid 
of Sin, and of incurring the fearful Judgments of God by Sin ; That I do propose 
him for Imitation. 

Verily, If all School-masters would Watch for Souls, and wisely spread the 
Nets of Salvation for the Souls of their Children, in the midst of all their Teach- 
ing ; Or, if the wondrous Rules of Education, lately published and practised, 
in that Wonder of the World, the School of Glaucha near Hall in the Lower 
Saxony, were always attended : Who can tell, what Blessed Effects might be 
seen, in very many Children made wise unto Salvation ? Albertus, who frt>m 
his Great Learning had the Syrname of Magnus, desired of God some years 
before he died. That he might forget all his other Learning, and be wholly 
Swallowed up in Religion. I would not propose unto you, My Masters, That 
you should Forget all other Learning. By all means furnish the Children with 
as much Learning as ever you can. But be not so Sicallowed up with other 
Learning, as to Forget Religion, & the Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. 
Look upon other things to be (as a Speech in Parliament once elegantly called 
them,) only the Et C(Btera's, to Religion. Why should not a School-master be 
to his Children, A School-master to bring them unto Christ ? This was the 
Study of our CHEEVER. The famous Dr. Reynolds, in a Funeral Sermon on 
an Excellent School-master, in the City of Loudon, has a passage worthy to be 
written in Letters of Gold. Says he, ' If Grammar- Schools have Holy and 

* Learned men set over them, not only the Brains, but the Souls of the Children 

* might be there Enriched, and the Work of Learning and of Conversion too, be 

* Betimes wrought in them !' 

I shall not presume to Dictate, upon this matter, or to Enquire, Why Casta- 
lio^s Dialojrues, be not Look'd upon as one of the best School Books, for the Latin 


Tongue, in all the World ? Or, Why for the Greek, there is no more Account 
made of Posselius ? Or, indeed why (to exprt-ss my self in the Terms of a 
Modern Writer,) 'there should not be North-west Passage found, for the Attain- 
' ing of the Latin Tongue; that instead of a Journey, which may be dispatch 'd 
' in a few Days, they may not wander like the Children of Israel, Forty Years in 
'the Wilderness. And why they should so much converse with the Poets, at 
' that Age, when they read them, with so much Difficulty, and so little Kelish.' 
But I will venture upon it, as neither a Tedious Parenthesis, nor a needless 
Digression, to single out only Two passages of many this way which in my small 
Heading I have met withal. 

The first is this ; I have seen this Experiment among others recorded of one 
that had a Number of Little Folks under liis Charge. 

' Moreover, lie made it his Custome, that in eveiy Recitation, he would, 
' from something or other occurring in it, make an occasion, to let fall some 
' Sentence, which had a Tendency to promote the Fear of God in their Hearts; 
' which thing fometimes d d indeed put him to more than a little study ; but the 
' Good Effect sufficiently Recoinpenced it.' 

Another is this. A late Writer ha's these words; 'Many Children are 
' sooner taught what Jupiter, Mars, & such Pagan Gods were, then what, Father y 
' Son, and Spirit i.s. Augustine of old eomplain'd f)f this ; of Learning in the 
'Schools, Joves Adulteries -, and for giving an Account of such things, sailh he, 
' ob hoc bona spei puer appellahar. Luthor also complained, That our Schools 
' were more Pagan than Christian. I reRr the unsatisfied Reader, to Pasors 
' Preface to liis Lexicon. I know an aged and famous School-master ; that after 
'he had kept School about Fifty years, said, with a very sad countenance, That it 
'was a great Troubl.; to him, that he had spent so much time in Reading Pagan 
' Authoi*s to his Scholars, and wish'd it wtr«> custom!) ry to nad such a Book as 
' Ditports Verses upon Job, rather than Homer, and such Books. I pray God, 
' put it in the Hearts of a Wise Parliament, to Purge our Schools; that instead of 
'Learning vain Fictions, and Filthy Stories, they may bj accjuainted with the 
' Word of God, and with Books containing Grave Sayings, and things that may 
' make theni truly Wise a;id L^seful in the World.' 

Ye have heard, what MY MASTER was. In the School. Sir Walter 
Rawleign commends it as a piece of wisdom, to use great moderation when we 
are treating men with Commendation. \ will not forget the Rule, in carrying on 
my Commendation of mij Master. But I will say very much in a Little. Out 
of the School, he was One, Antiqua Fide, priscie moribus ; A Christian of the 
Old Fashion : An OLD NEW-ENGLlSll CIIRISTLVN ; And I may tell you, 
That was as Venerable a Sight, as the World, since the Days of Primitive 
Christianity, has ever look'd upon. 

He was well Studied in the Body of Divinity; An Able Defender of the 
Faith and Order of the Gospel; Notably Conversant and Acquainted with the 
Scriptural Prophecies; And, by Consequence, A Sober Chiliast. 

He Lived {is a Master, the Term, which has been for above three thousand 
years, assign'd for the Life of a Man; he cont nued unto the Ninety Fourth year 
of his Age, an unusual Instance of Liveliness. His Intellectual Force, as little 
al^ated as his Natural. He Exemplified the Fulfilment of that word, As thy 
Days, so shall thy Strength be; in the Gloss which the Jerusalem Targum 
has put upon it ; As thou icast in the Dayes of thy Youth, such thou shalt be 
in thy Old Age. Tlie Reward of his Fruitfulness .' For, Fructus Liberal 
Arborem! The product of Temperance ; Rather than what my Lord Verulam 
assigns, as a Reason for Vivacious Scholars. 

DEATH must now do its part. He Dy'd, Longing for Death. Our old 
SIMEON waited for it, that he might get nearer to the Consolation of Israel. 
He Dyed Leaning like Old Jacob, upon a Staff; the Sacrifice and the Right . 
eousness of a Glorious CHRIST, he let us know, was the Golden Staff, which he 
Lean'd upon. He Dyed mourning for the Quick Apostasie, which he saw break- 
ing in upon us ; very easie about his own Eternal Happiness, but full of Distress 
for a poor People here under the Displeasui-e of Heaven, for Former Iniquities^ 
he thought, as well as Later Ones. To sav no more : He Dyed, A CANDI- 
Weakened, when those Fly away, at whose Flight me may cry out. My Father^ 
My Father, the Chariots o/New England, and the Horsemen thereof.-^ 



An E S S A Y on the Memory of my Venerable MASTER ; 

Augusta perstringere Carmine Laudes. 
Quas nulla Eloquij vis Celebrare queat. 

YOU that are Men, & Thoughts of Man- 
hood know, 
Be Just now to the Man that made you so. 

Martyr d by Scholars the stabb'd Cassian 

And fails to cursed Lads a Sacrifice. 
Not so my CHEEVER ; Not by Scholars slain, 
But Prais'd, and Lov'd, and wish'd to Life 

A mighty Tribe of Well-instructed Youth 
Tell what they owe to him, and Tell with 

All the Eight parts of Speech he taught to 

They now Employ to Trumpet his Esteem. 
They fill Fames Trumpet, and they spread a 

To last till Che Last Trumpet drown the same. 
3Iagister pkAs'd them well, because 'twas Ae; 
They saw that Bonus did with it agree. 
While they said, Amo, they the Hint improve 
Him for to make the Object of their Love. 
No Concord so Inviolate they knew 
As to pay Honours to their Master due. 
With Interjections they break off at last, 
But, AK is all they use, Wb, and, Alas ! 
We Learnt Prosodia, but with that Design 
Our Masters Name should in our Ferses shine, 
Our Weeping Ovid but instructed us 
To write upon his Death, De Tristibus. 
Tally we read, but still with this Intent, 
That in his praise we might be Eloquent. 
Our Stately Virgil made us but Contrive 
As our jSnchises to keep him Alive. 
When Phoenix to Achilles was assign'd 
A Master, then we thought not Homer blind : 
A Phoenix, which Oh ! might his Ashes shew ! 
So rare a Thing we thought our Master too. 
And if we made a Theme, 'twas with Regret 
We might not on his Worth show all our Wit, 

Go on, ye Grateful Scholars, to proclame 
To late Prosterity your Masters Name. 
I,et it as many Languages declare 
As on Lnretto-H^bXe do appear. 

To much to be by any one exprest: 

I'll tell my share, and you shall tell the rest. 
Ink is too vile a Liquor ; Liquid Gold 
Should fill the Pen, by which such things are 

The Book should Amyanthus-Va.\ier be 
All writ with Gold, from all corruption free. 

A Learned Ma.«ter of the Languages 
Which to Rich Stores of Learning are the 
Keucs ; 

He taught us first Good Sense to understand 
And put the Golden Keyes into our Hand, 
We but for him had been for Learning Dumb, 
And liad a sort of Turkish Mutes become. 
Were Grammar quite Extinct, yet at his Brain 
The Candle might have well been lit again. 
URhet'rick had been stript of all her Pride 
She from his Wardrobe might have been Sup- 

Do but Name CHEEVER, and the Echo 

Upon that Name, Good Latin, will Repeat. 
A Christian Terence, Master of the File 
That arms the Curious to Reform their Style. 
Now Rome and Athens from their Ashes rise ; 
See their Platonick Year with vast surprise; 
And in our School a. Miracle is wrought: 
For the Dead Languages to Life are brought. 
His Work he Lov'd : Oh ! had we done the 
same ! 
Our Play-dayes still to him ungrateful came. 
And yet so well our Work adjusted Lay, 
We came to Work, as if we came to Play. 
Our Lads had been, but for his wondrous 

Boyes of my Lady Mores unquiet Pray'rs. 
Sure were it not for such informing Schools, 
Oor Lat' ran too would soon be fiU'd with 

'Tis CORLET's pains, & CHEEVER's, we 

must own, 
That thou. New England, art not Scythia 

The Isles of Silly had o're-run this Day 
The Continent of our America. 
Grammar he taught, which 'twas his work to 

But he would Uagar have her place to know. 
The Bible is the Sacred Grammar, where 
The Rules of speaking well, contained are. 
He taught us Lilly, and he Gospel taught ; 
And us poor Children to our Saviour brought* 
Master of Sentences, he gave ns more 
Then we in our Sentenlioi had before. 
We Learn't Good Things in Tullies Offices; 
But we from him Learn't Better things than 

With Cato's he to us the Higher gave 
Lessons of JESUS, that our Souls do save. 
We Constru'd Ovid's Metamorphosis, 
But on our selves charg'd, not a Change l«» 

Young Austin wept, when he saw Dido dead, 
Tho' not a Tear for a L,osi Soul he hadi 



Our Master would not let us be so vain, 
But us from Virgil did to David train. 
Textors Epistla would not Cloathe our Souls; 
Pauls too we heard; we went to School at 

Syrs, Do you not Remember well the Times 
When us he warn'd against our Youthful 

Crimes : 
Wliat Honey dropt from our old Nestors 

When with his Counsels he Reformed our 

Youth : 
How much he did to make us Wise and Good; 
And with what Prat/ers, his work he did con- 
Concenvd, that when from him we Learning 

It might not Armed Wickedness be made ! 
The Su7i shall lirst the Zodiac forsake, 
And Stones unto the Stars their Flight shall 

First shall the Summer bring large drifts of 

And beauteous Cherries in December grow ; 
E're of those Charges we Forgetful are 
Which we, O man of God, from thee did 

Such Tutors to the Little Ones would be 
Such that in Flesh we should their Angels 

see ; 
Ezekiel should not be the Name of such ; 
We'd Agnthangelus not think too much, 
Who Serv'd the School, the Church did not 

forget ; 
But Thought, and Pray'd, and often wept for 

Mighty in Prayer : How did he wield thee, 

Pray'r ! 
Thou Reverst Thunder: CHRIST's-Sides- 

piercing i?pear 1 
Soaring we saw the Bird of Paradise ; 
So Wing'd by Thee, for Flights beyond the 

How oft we saw him tread the Milky Way, 
Which to the Glorious Throne of Mercy lay ! 
Come from the Mount, he shone with an- 
cient Grace, 
Awful the Splendor of his Aged Face. 
Cloath'd in tlie Good Old Way, his Garb did 

A War with the Vain Fashions of the Age. 
Fearful of nothing more than hateful Sin ; 
'Twas that from which he laboured all to 

Zealous; And in Truths Cause ne'r known 

to trim ; 
No Neuter Gender there allowed by him. 
Stars but a Thousand did the Ancients know. 
On later Globes they Nineteen hundred grow: 
Now such a CUE EVER added to the Sphere; 
Makes an Addition to the Lustre there. 

Mean time America a Wonder saw ; 
A Youth in Age, forbid by Natures Law. 

You that in t'other Hemisphere do dwell. 
Do of Old Age your dismal Stories tell. 
You tell oi Snowy Heads and Rheumy Eyes I 
And things that make a man himself despise. 
You say, d, frozen Liquor chills the Veins, 
And scarce the Shadow of a Man remains 
Winiter of Life, that Sapless Age you call, 
And of all Maladies the Hospital: 
The Second Nonage of the Soul ; the Brain 
Cover'd with Cloud ; the Body all in pain. 
To weak Old Age, you say, there must belong 
A Trembling Palsey both of Limb and Tongue, 
Dayes all Decrepit ; and a Bending Back, 
Propt by a S'ttJ", in Hands that ever shake. 
Nay, Syrs, our CHEEVER shall confute 

you all, 
On whom there did none of these Mischefsfall. 
He Lir'd, and to vast Age no Illness knew ; 
Till Times Scythe waiting for him Rusty 

He Liv'd and Wrought ; His Labours were 

Immense ; 
But ne'r Declined to Prater-perfect Tense. 
A Blooming Youth in him at Ninety Four 
We saw ; But, Oh ! when such a sight before 
At Wondrous .d^c he did his Youth refeume. 
As when the Eagle mew's his Aged plume. 
With Faculties of Reason still so bright, 
And at Good Services so Exquisite ; 
Sure our sound Chiliast, we wondring 

To the First Resurrection is not brought ! 
No, lie for that was waiting at the Gate 
In the Pure Things that fit a Candidate. 
He in Good Actions did his Life Emjiloy, 
And to make others Good, he made his Joy. 
Thus wellappris'd now of the Life to Come, 
To Live here was to him a Martyrdom. 
Our brave Macrobius Long'd to see the Day 
Which others dread, of being CaWd away. 
So, Ripe with Age, he does invite the Hook, 
Which watchful does for its large Harvest 

Death gently cut the Stalk, and kindly laid 
Him, where our God His Granary has made, 

Who at New-Haren first began to Teach, 
Dying Unshipwreck'd, does White-Haven 

At that Fair Haven they all Storms forget ; 
He there his DAVENPORT with Love does 

The Luminous Robe, the Loss whereof with 

Our Parents wept, when Naked they became; 
Those Lovely Spirits wear it, and therein 
Serve God with Priestly Glory, free from Sin. 

But in his Paradisian Rest above, 
To Us does the Blest Shade retain his Love. 
With Ripened Thoughts Above coneern'd for 

We can't but hear him dart his Wishes, thus. 
' TUTORS, Be Strict ; But yet be Gentle too : 
' Don't by fierce Cruelties fair Hopes undoe. 


Dream not, that they who are to Learning 

• Will mend by Arjruments in Ferio. 
' Who keeps the Golden Fleece, Oh, let him 


• A Dragon be, tho' he Three Tongues have 

« Why can you not to Learning find the way, 

• But thro' the Province of Seceria 7 
'Twas ModeraXus, who taught Origen ; 

• A Youth which prov'd one of the best of 


• The Lads with Honour first, and Reason 

' Blowes are but for the Refractory Fool. 

Et Tumulum facile, et Tumulo superaddite carmen —[Y'lrg. in Pephn.^ 

« But, Oh ! First Teach them their Great 

God to fear ; 
•That you like me, with Joy may meet 
them here.' 

H' has said ! 

Adieu, a little while. Dear Saint, Adieu ; 
Your Scholar won't be Long, Sir, after you. 
In the mean time, with Gratitude I must 
Engrave an EPITAPH upon your Dust. 
'Tis true, Excessive Merits rarely safe : 
Such an Excess forfeits an Epitaph. 
But if Base men the Rules of Justice break 
The Stones (at least upon the Tombs) wili 



Ludtmagister ; 
Primo Neo-porlensis; 
Deinde, Ipsuicensis; 
Postea, Carolotenensig 
Postremo, Bostonensis : 

Doctrinam ac Virtutem 
Nostri, si Sis Nov-Anglus, 
Colis, si non Barbarus ; 
a Quo, non pure tantum, sed et pie, 
Loqui ; 
a Quo non tantum Ornate dicere 

coram Horn ini bus, 

Sed et Orationes coram Deo fundere 

Efficacissimas ; 


a Quo non tantum Carmina pangere, 


Cseleetes Hymnos, Odasq ; Angelica.'?. 



Qui discere voluerunt ; 

ad Quam accensa sunt, 
Quis queat numerare, 
Quot Ecclesiarum Lumina 1 
• Qui secum Corpus Theologise abstulit, 
Peritissimus TIIEOLOGUS, 
Corpus hie suum sibi minus Charum, 
Vixit Annos, XCIV. 
Docuit, Annos, LXX. 
Obiit, A.D. M. DCC. VIIL 
Et quod Mori potuit, 

Expectat Exoptatq : 
Primam Sanctorum Resui-rectionem 
ad . 



Mr. Cheever married his first wife in New Haven, (according to 
the Diary of Judge Sewall), in the autumn of 1638. In the 
baptismal record of the first church, the second baptism is that of 
"Samuel Cheevers, the son of Ezekiel Cheevers," "the 17th of the 
9th month (November), 1639, — who died at Marblehead in 1724. 
Mary, his daughter, was baptized 29th of November, 1640; his son, 
Ezekiel, was baptized 12th of June, 1642, and died 1643; another 
daughter, Elizabeth, was baptized the 6th of April, 1645. According 
to the same baptismal record, " Sarah Cheever," probably another 
daughter of his, was baptized 21st, September, 1646 ; and, "Hannah 
Cheever" on the 25th of June, 1648. His first wife died at New 
Haven, in 1649, and her death may have been one of the causes of 
his removal to another field of labor. 

He married,! ^^^ ^^^ second wife, on 18 Nov., 1652, Miss Ellen Lo- 
throp, of Salem, a sister of Captain Thomas Lothrop, who was massa- 
cred at Bloody Brook, at the head of the " flower of Essex." Of this 
marriage were born Abigail, on the 20th of October, 1653 ; Ezekiel, on 
the 1st of Juh^, 1655 ; Nathaniel, on the 23d of June, 1657, (died in 
July following) ; Thomas, on the 23d of August, 1658; and, Susanna, 
whose baptism is recorded in 1665. Of the children above-named, 
Thomas, Samuel, Mary, Elizabeth, Ezekiel, and Susanna are named in 
his last Avill,* and were living in February, 1705-6. His second wife 
died on the 10th of Sept., 1706. 

*We are indebted for a copy of Ezekiel Cheever's Will to Mr. S. Bradford Morse, Jr., of 
East Boston, who is married to a descendant of the venerable school-master. 


3n Nomine Domini ^mcii. ,„,',!?n.^'flul;f;rsuff„Vkr„X°JI°': 

land, Schoolmaster, being through great mercy in good health and understanding wonderfuli 
in my age, Do make and ordain this my Last will and Testamt : as followeth. 

First I give up my Soul to God my father in Jesus Christ, my Body to the Earth to be De- 
cently buried in a Decent manner according to my Desire in hope of a Blessed part in ye first 
Resurrection & Glorious Kingdom of Christ on Earlh a thousand years. 

As for my outward Estate 1 thus Dispose of it. First 1 Give to my Dear wife all my house- 
hold Goods and of my plate ye two Ear'd Cupp, my Leat Tankard, a porringer, a Spoon. 

//; I give my Son Thomas all my Books Saving what Ezekiel may need & what Godly 
Books my wife may Desire. 

Item. I give to my Grand Child Ezekiel Russell twenty pounds. 

Item. I Devide all the Rest of my Estate into three parts one third 1 give to my Dear wife 
Ellen Cheever ye other two thirds to my other Children Samuel, Mary, Elizath, Ezekiel, 
Thomas, Susanna equally part part alike the Legacyes, Debts & funeral Expences Deducted 
& Discharged. 

Maries portion I give to her Children as she shall Dispose. The Land Elizaih purchased 
with my money I give to her & to her Children forever. If my wife Dyes before me all given 
her shall be given to my Six Children equally. If any of my Child" Dye their portion I give 
to their Children equaly. 

Item. I give to the poor five pounds as part of my funeral Chargs: Item. I make & ap- 
point my Dear wife Ellen Cheever «fe my two Children Thomas & Susanna Joint Executors 
of this my Last will. In witness: whereof I have hereunto Set my hand <fe Seal. this Six- 
teenth Day of February 1705-6 : 

Ezekiel Chever «fc St-al. Signed Sealed Declared in presence of Benja Dyer Henry Bridge- 
ham, Henry Bridghame. 

Examined Per: P. DrDLKY Regr. 

From Probate Records, Liber Xo. 16. pp. 452-453. 

tOn the authority of James Savage, Esq., President of the Massachusetts Historical Society. 
The names of the children by the second wife are taken from a manuscript memorandum, 
belonging to Rev. Ezekiel Cheever Williams, of 


Samuel Johnson, D. D., the first president of King's (now Colum- 
bia,) College, New York, was born at Guilford, Conn., Oct. 14th, 
1696. His father and ^-randfather were both residents of Guilford, 
and both deacons of the congregational church in that town. His 
great-grandfather, Robert Johnson, was one of the original settlers Oi 
Xew Haven. From a very early age, he manifested a great fondness 
for books, and his father, after a trial of four or five years, finding it 
impossible to reconcile him to the idea of business, finally complied 
with his earnest wishes, and allowed him to prepare to enter Yale 
College, then recently organized, lie fitted for college under Mr. Eliot, 
who afterward settled at Killingworth, as a preacher. Mr. Chapman, 
who succeeded Mr. Eliot as a teacher, at Guilford, and Mr. James, a 
very eminent scholar of Guilford. At the age of fourteen, he en- 
tered Yale College, then located at Saybrook, receiving instruction 
from Messrs. Noyes and Fisk, at that time tutors in the college, as 
the rector of the college, Mr. Andrew, then resided at Milford, and 
only instructed the senior class. In 1714, he took the degree of A. 
B., having, in addition to the ordinary college studies, made some 
progress in Hebiew. 

The early part of the eighteenth century was a period of great de- 
pression to all the interests of learning in New England. The emi- 
nent scholars of the early emigration were dead, and most of those 
who came over, at the period of the restoration, had also passed 
away; since the revolution of 1688, the causes which had led to 
emigration had been removed, and more returned to England than 
came from thence ; the generation upon the stage at the time of Mr. 
Johnson's graduation, were almost entirely educated in this country ; 
and, though the coui-se of study at Harvard College was respectable 
for the time, and the circumstances of a colony, whose existence was 
yet numbered by decades of years, yet it was far from being up to the 
standard of European culture. Yale College had maintained a sort 
of nomade existence, for some thirteen years ; its trustees were among 
the most eminent scholars of the colony, and they were disposed to 
do what they could to make it a reputable school of learning; but 
its course of instruction was extremely limited. At the time Mr. 
Johnson took his degree, all that was attempted, in the way of classi- 


cal learning, was tlie reading of five or six of Cicero's orations, as 
man}^ books of Virgil, and a part of the Hebrew Psalter. lu mathe- 
matics, only common arithmetic, and a little surveying were taught ; 
in logic, metaphysics and ethics, the doctrines of the schoolmen still 
held sway, and Descartes, Boyle, Locke, Newton, and Bacon, were 
regarded as innovators, from whom no good could be expected or 
hoped. In theology, Ames' '^ Medulla, ^^ and " Cases of Conscience,^ 
and " WollebiuSj^ were the standards. 

"With, perhaps a pardonable vanity, Mr. Johnson, wdio had stood 
very high as a scholar in his class, regarded himself as possessing 
superior attainments ; but his good opinion of his own abilities was 
very suddenly lowered, when, a year or two later, chance threw in 
his way, a copy of Lord Bacon's ^^Advancement of Learnrrtg" then 
a very rare book in this country. Humbled by the sense of his own 
ignorance, which that book gave him, he was still much enlightened 
by it. and, to use his own language, "seemed to himself like a person 
suddenly emerging out of the glimmer of twilight, into the full sun- 
shine of open day." His mind being thus prepared for further cul- 
ture, he soon had an opportunity for its subsequent development. A 
collection of books made in England by Mr. Dummer, the agent of 
the colony, amounting to about eight hundred volumes, was sent over 
to the college. Among them were the works of Sir Isaac Newton, 
Blackman, Steele, Burnet, Woodward, Ilalley, Bentley, Kennet, Bar- 
row, Patrick, South, Tillotson, Sharp, Scott, and Whitby. To a 
mind, as earnest as was his to acquire knowledge, these books fur- 
nished indeed "a feast of fat things." In company with Messrs. 
Cutler, Eliot, Hart, Whittelsey, and his classmates, Wetmore and 
Brown, he devoted all his leisure to their perusal. 

Meantime, the college was in great danger of extinction. The stu- 
dents, complaining of the unfitness of their tutors, scattered them- 
selves in different parts of the colony, studying under such teachers 
as they chosQ ; a part, including those living in the vicinity of Con- 
necticut River, placed themselves under the direction of Messrs. 
"Wood bridge and Buckingham, the ministers at Hartford, who were 
trustees of the college, and at their instigation, Messrs. Williams aTid 
Smith, two young ministers, were persuaded to set up a collegiate 
school at Wethersfield, in the hope of obtaining a removal of the 
college thither ; and to this school, the students of the river towns 
resorted. Those belonging to the towns on the sea-shore, put them- 
selves under the tuition of Mr. Johnson, at Guilford. 

Under these circumstances, a meeting of the trustees was held, in 
the spring of I7l6 ; a majority of the trustees present, as well as 


the governor, Mr. Saltonstall, of New London, were in favor of estab- 
lishing the college at New Haven ; but the minority were very bitter 
in their opposition, and a vote was passed, referring the matter to the 
general court, which was to be held at New Haven, in October of that 
year. This meeting of the trustees was not attended by Messrs. 
Woodbridge and Buckingham, the Hartford ministers, and they pro- 
tested against its legality and its action. 

At the meeting of the general court, (or colonial legislature,) a 
majority of the members of both houses were found to be in favor Oi 
establishing the college at New Haven, and an act of assembly was 
passed for that purpose. The majority of the trustees then met, and 
appointed Mr. Johnson, who was then but twenty years of age, one 
of the tutors, and, with a view of reconciling the minority, selected 
Mr. Smith, one of the Wethersfield teachers, as the other. They 
also commenced a subscription to obtain the means of erecting a col- 
lege building, and procured an architect from Boston, to oversee the 

The minority, however, were inexorable ; Mr. Smith and all his 
party refusing to consider any overtures for a union, and the Weth- 
ersfield school was maintained. The students along the sea-coast, 
about twenty in number, came together at New Haven, and Mr. 
Johnson began his course of instruction there, assisted by Mr. Noyes, 
the minister of the town. On the 12th September, 17 17, a com- 
mencement was held at New Haven, and the same day at Wethers- 
field, and degrees were conferred in both places. The trustees at 
New Haven, chose Mr. Brown, a classmate of Mr, Johnson, as a 
second tutor. Harmonizing fully in their views, these two young 
men exerted themselves to the utmost, for the improvement of the 
students under their charge, extending the course of mathematical 
study, introducing the works of Locke and Sir Isaac Newton, into the 
college course, and substituting the Copernican for the Ptolemanic 
system, which had hitherto been taught. It was a fortunate circum- 
stance for them, that the troubles without, withdrew public attention 
from these innovations within. The succeeding year, (1718,) the 
trouble which had existed between the two parties at New Haven 
and Wethersfield, was settled by a compromise. The degrees given 
at Wethersfield were confirmed; a tract of land belonging to the 
colony was sold, and of the avails £200 currency, was given to the 
college at New Haven, and £800 currency to Hartford, toward the 
erection of a state house, as an offset for the loss of the college. As 
a result of this settlement, the Wethersfield students came to New 
Haven, and though somewhat turbulent, there* was but little subse- 
quent trouble with them. 


The same year, Rev. Timothy Cutler, at that time pastor of the 
congregational church in Stratford, and an intimate friend of Mr. 
Johnson, was chosen rector of the college, and having received a very 
liberal donation from Elihu Yale, of London, the trustees gave to their 
new building, the name of Yale College. In a little more than a year 
after the appointment of Mr. Cutler to the rectorship, Mr. John- 
son resigned his tutorship, to enter upon the duties of the pastorate, 
and was ordained and settled at West Haven in March, 1*720, reject- 
ing several more eligible offers, in order that he might be near the 
college, and have the advantage of its library, and the society of its 

Of the change which soon after took place in his religious views, 
and which led him, and several of his friends, to seek ordination in 
the Anglican church, it is not our province here to speak at length; it 
was unquestionably the result of an honest, conscientious, and sincere 
belief in the error of his previous creed, and when we consider that 
its result was to cut him off from the sympathy and regard of all his 
previous friends, and to deprive him of the fairest opportunities of 
preferment and reputation, which were ever perhaps offered to a 
young man in his position, we can not avoid doing honor to the moral 
courage which led to the step, hpwever we may regard the creed he 
adopted. Suffice it to say, that in November, 1V22, rector Cutler 
and Mr. Brown, having resigned their offices, set sail in company with 
Mr. Johnson, for England, to receive ordination from an English 
bishop. Mr. Wetmore, another classmate of Mr. Johnson, followed, 
a few months later. In March, 1723, they were ordained by the 
Bishop of Norwich, and the week after Mr. Brown died of the small 

In May, Mr. Cutler received the degree of Doctor of Divinity, and 
Mr. Johnson, of Master of Arts, from the University of Oxford, and 
soon after, the same degrees were conferred on them by the University 
of Cambridge. Dr. Cutler and Mr. Johnson returned to this country, 
in the summer of 1723, and Mr. Johnson, having received an ap- 
pointment as missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the 
Gospel, settled over the Episcopal church, at Stratford, Conn. The 
change in his views subjected him to considerable opposition, but his 
equable temper, his cheerful and benevolent disposition, and the 
marked purity and dignity of his character, disarmed the enmity of 
those who opposed him, and caused the people to esteem him highly. 
In 1725, he married Mrs. Charity Nicoll, the daughter of Col. Rich- 
ard Floyd, and widow of Benjamin ISTicoll, Esq., of Long Island, by 
whom she had had two sons and a dausrhter. 


It was the fortune of Mr. Johnson to be on terms of intimacy and 
correspondence, with many of the most eminent scholars of his day, 
both in England and this country. Among the most intimate of his 
friends, at this period of his life, was Governor Burnett of N(^w York, 
a son of the celebrated Bishop of that name, and a man of great 
learning and genius, but eccentric both in his views and his mode of 
reasoning. The Governor having embraced the opinions of Clarke, 
Whiston, and others, on the subject of the Trinity, and of Bishop 
Hoadley, Jackson and Sykes, on the subject of ecclesiastical authority, 
sought to win his friend Johnson to his views. Mr. Johnson's mental 
habits were such, that he would neither receive or reject any theory 
or doctrine, until he had carefully and patiently examined it on all 
sides ; and he accordingly bent all his fine powers to the investiga- 
tion of the questions discussed by the authors already named ; the 
result was to confirm him in his previous views, though with a large 
charity for those who differed from him in opinion. In 1*729, soon 
after the conclusion of this investigation. Bishop Berkeley, then dean 
of Derry, Ireland, came to this country, and resided for two and a half 
years near Newport, R. I. During his residence here, Mr. Johnson 
often visited him and was on terms of close intimacy with him, and 
often in his after life referred to these interviews, as having been of 
great advantage to him, in the improvement of his mind, by free in- 
tercourse with so eminent a scholar, and philosopher. When the 
Dean was about leaving America, Mr. Johnson paid him a final visit, 
and in the course of conversation, took occasion to commend to his 
notice Yale College as a deserving institution, and to express the hope 
that he might send the college some books. The commendation was 
remembered ; two years after, the Dean and some of his friends sent 
to the college a present of nearly a thousand volumes of choice books, 
two hundred and sixty of them folios. The value of this gift was not 
less than two thousand five hundred dollars. About the same time he 
forwarded to Mr. Johnson, a deed conveying to the trustees, his farm 
of ninety-six acres on Rhode Island, the annual income of which was 
to be divided between three bachelors of arts, who, upon examina- 
tion by the rector of the college, and a minister of the church of 
England, should appear to be the best classical scholars ; provided 
they would reside at the college, the three years between their bache- 
lor's and master's degrees, in the prosecution of their studies ; and 
the forfeiture, in cases of non-residence, were to be given in premi- 
ums of books, to those that performed the best exercises. For many 
years after the return of Bishop Berkeley, to England, Mr. Johnson's 
life passed smoothly, in the performance of his parochial duties, and 


the prosecution of his studies ; occasionally, the calm and even tenor 
of his life, was slightly ruffled by pamphlet controversies, with those 
who attacked the creed or practice of the Anglican church — contro- 
versies i|i which he rarely or never acted the part of the aggressor, 
but usually of the respondent. Of this character was his controversy 
with Mr. Dickinson, Mr. Foxcroft, Mr. Graham, his " Letter from 
Aristocles to AntkadeSj^ and his rejoinder to Mr. Dickinson's reply 
to that letter. In controversy, as every where else, it may be re- 
marked, that Mr. Johnson exhibited the character of the Christian 
gentleman, never suffering himself to be betrayed into the use of the 
bitter and acrimonious language, which have made the odium theo- 
lofficum, proverbial, as the most venomous of all hatreds. In 1746, 
Mr. Johnson published "yl Si/stem of Morality^ containing the first 
principles of moral philosophy or ethics, in a chain of necessary con- 
sequences from certain facts." This work had a high reputation at 
the time of its publication, and met with an extensive sale. In 1*743, 
the degree of Doctor in Divinity, was unanimously conferred upon 
him by the University of Oxford. The degree was conferred, it is 
said, at the special instance of Archbishop Seeker, then Bishop of 
Oxford, Dr. Hodges, then Vice-Chancellor of the University and 
Provost of Oriel College, Dr. Astry, and others. 

The honor thus conferred on him, had only the eflfect to make him 
more zealous in his studies, especially in Hebrew and the other ori- 
ental languages, in which he was more proficient than most of the 
scholars of the eighteenth century, in this country. 

Dr. Johnson had two sons ; William Samuel, and William, both 
whom he fitted for college himself, and entered them at Yale when 
they were about thirteen years of age. The elder became eminent 
as a lawyer, received the degree of LL. D. from the University of 
Oxford, in 17G6, and was, for several years, the agent of the Colony 
in England ; the younger studied divinity, and was subsequently a 
tutor in King's College, under his father. 

Dr. Johnson prepared a compendium of logic and metaphysics, and 
another of ethics, for the use of his sons, and these were published 
together in 1752, by Benjamin Franklin, for the use of the Univer- 
sity of Pennsylvania, then just established at Philadelphia.. Dr. 
Johnson and Dr. Franklin were constant correspondents for many 
years, and the views of the latter on electricity were laid before Dr. 
Johnson, before their publication. The plan of education in the Uni- 
versity in which Dr. Franklin was deeply interested, was also modified 
at his suggestion, and he was offered the presidency of it, which, 
however, he declined. 


In 1753, the principal gentlemen of New York, with Lieutenant- 
Governor Delancey at their head, undertook to found a college in 
New York City. In all their plans, Dr. Johnson was consulted, and 
when the charter was obtained, and they were ready to organize the 
college, he was elected president. He at first declined, but finding 
that, unless he accepted, they would relinquish the enterprise, he very 
reluctantly consented, and in 1754 took leave of his congregation at 
Stratford, with deep regret on both sides. A singular condition was 
attached to his acceptance, which shows how great an amount of 
terror the ravages of small-pox had produced in the minds of all 
classes, at that time ; " he was to be at liberty to retire to some place 
of safety in the country, whenever the small-pox should render it 
dangerous for him to reside in the city."* To those who have only 
known its dangers, when modified by vaccination, this extraordinary 
dread seems almost incredible. 

On the l7th July, 1754, the first class, consisting of ten students, 
assembled in the vestry-room of Trinity Church, and the regular 
course of study was commenced, the doctor himself hearing the reci- 
tations. In addition to the labor of instruction, he also drew up the 
form of prayers for the college, composed a suitable collect, compiled 
a body of laws for their use, devised a seal for the corporation, as- 
sisted in the planning of the college edifice, and wrote to his friends 
in England, Bishop Sherlock, Archbishop Seeker, and the Society for 
the propagation of the gospel, for assistance. On the admission of 
the second class, his younger son, William Johnson, was appointed 
tutor, which office he filled, to universal acceptance, for more than a 
year, when he sailed for England, in November, 1755, with a view to 
take orders, and settle, as the missionary of the Society for the propa- 
gation of the gospel, at Westchester. He received holy orders, in 
March, and the degree of A. M. was conferred on him by both Ox- 
ford and Cambridge, in May, 1756 ; but, soon after his return from 
Cambridge, he was seized with the small-pox, of which he died, Juno 
20th, 1756. A Mr. Cutting, educated at Eton and Cambridge, suc- 
ceeded Mr. Johnson as tutor ; the college edifice was making good 
progress, but, soon after the president received the painful intelligence 
of the death of his son, he was compelled to leave New York, by the 
prevalence of the small-pox there, and could not return under a year. 

* The small-pox seems to have been, through life, " the skeleton on the hearth " to the good 
doctor; and this is hardly matter of surprise ; for, at the commencement of his ministry, 
his friend, Dr. Cutler, hardly escaped with his life from it in England ; his friend, Mr. Brown, 
died with it there, as did also, subsequent to his removal to New York, his younger son ; 
he himself more than once left his post in New York, in consequence of its prevalence ; and, 
in 1763, his second wife fell a victim to it. D 


He left about thirty students in the three classes, and, as Mr. Cutting 
was unable to teach them all, Mr. Tread well, a graduate of Harvard 
College, was appointed second tutor. During the year iVoY, the 
college received from England a library, consisting of about fifteen 
liundred volumes, the bequest of Rev. Dr. Bi-istowe, through the So- 
ciety for the propagation of the gospel. Dr. Johnson returned to 
New York, in March, 1*758, and in June following was called to bury 
his wife, with whom he had lived very happily for thirty-two years. 
On the 21st June, 1758, he held his first commencement, at which the 
students received their first degree, and several other persons the second. 
During the succeeding year, the college curriculum was more thor- 
oughly systematized, the president giving instructions in Greek, logic, 
metaphysics, and ethics, while the tutors, or professors as they were 
now called, divided between them the other studies. In 1759, soon 
after the second commencement, he was again obliged to leave the 
city in consequence of the prevalence of the small-pox, and spent the 
winter at Stratford, though not without much anxiety of mind rela- 
tive to the college, as the mathematical professor was very ill with 
consumption, and died the ensuing spring. In April, Benjamin 
Nicoll, one of Dr. Johnson's step-sons, an eminent lawyer in New 
York, and one of the governors or trustees of the college, died very 
suddenly. The loss was a very severe one to the college, and to the 
community, but Dr. Johnson was almost overwhelmed by it, and de- 
sired to resign his office and return to Stratford, to spend the remain- 
der of his days, with his only surviving son ; and accordingly he 
wrote to England, desiring that two gentlemen might be sent out, one 
to act as mathematical professor, and the other to take his place. 
The college edifice was at this time completed, and he removed into 
it, and here held, in May, 1760, his third commencement, and, in con- 
nection with Mr. Cutting, performed the whole duty of teaching the 
four classes that year. In 1761, soon after the fourth commence- 
ment, he published an essay, entitled "^4 Bemonntraiion of the Rea- 
sonahleness^ Usefulness^ and great Duty of Prayer^'' and, not long 
after, a sermon "0» the Beauty of Holiness in the Worship of the 
Church of England.^'' In June of the same year, he married a second 
wife, Mrs. Beach, the widow of an old friend and former parishioner. 
At the commencement of the next term, a mathematical professor, 
Mr. Robert Harper, was appointed, and the cares of the president 
somewhat diminished. The college had been partially endowed by 
moneys raised by subscription, and by a lottery, at the time of its 
charter, and had subsequently received a donation of £500 from the 
Society for the propagation of the gospel, and a Mr. Murray had be- 


queathed to it an estate of about £10,000 currency ; but, after erect- 
ing the necessary buildings, and incurring other expenses, its funds 
were reduced so low, that the interest was not sufficient, with tlie other 
income of the college, for the support of the officers, and it was there- 
fore necessary that it should be further endowed. The president was 
desirous that an effort should be made to procure some assistance 
from England, and a suitable opportunity offering, in the visit of 
James Jay, M. D., to England, the governors were persuaded by the 
president to accept Dr. Jay's offer, to endeavor to raise funds for them. 
The president of the University of Pennsylvania had sailed for Eng- 
land a few weeks before, as was subsequently ascertained, on a like 
errand in behalf of his own college, and, by the advice of the friends 
of both, the collection for the two colleges was made a joint one. 
The king, however, gave £400 to the college at New York, which 
thenceforward received the name of King's College. The half of 
the avails of the collection, received by King's College, amounted to 
about £6,000, above the expenses. In the autumn of 1*762, Eev. 
Myles Cooper, a graduate of Queen's College, Oxford, came to Xew 
York, recommended by Archbishop Seeker as a suitable person for a 
professor in the college, and to succeed Dr. Johnson when he should 
resign. He was immediately appointed professor of moral philoso- 
phy, and soon won the regard of all the friends of the college. Dr. 
Johnson had not intended to resign until after the commencement, in 
May, 1763, but the sudden death of Mrs. Johnson, of small-pox, in 
February, of that year, determined him to relinquish his situation at 
an earlier period, and he accordingly threw in his resignation about 
the first of March, and retired to Stratford. Mr. Cooper was chosen 
president before the commencement in May, and Dr. Clossy, a gradu- 
ate of Trinity College, Dublin, appointed professor of natural philos- 

In 1764, Dr. Johnson again became rector of the church at Strat- 
ford, and continued in that office until his death. But though it 
would have seemed that, at the age of nearly seventy, after a life of 
so great intellectual activity, he would have sought the repose and 
quiet he had so fairly earned, yet we find the instinct of the teacher 
was so strong, that he devoted himself to new labors in behalf of his 
grand-children, preparing first an English grammar for their use, then 
revising his catechism, his works on logic and ethics, and finally prepar- 
ing a Hebrew and English grammar, published in London, in 1767, 
and subsequently revised and enlarged in 1771. At the same time, he 
reviewed, with great care, his theological and philosophical opinions, 
and the ground on which they were based ; spent some hours each 



day in the study of the Hebrew scriptures, and, thouii^h laboring 
under a partial paralysis of the hand, kept up, with great punctuality, 
an extensive correspondence with eminent men, both in England and 
America. After his death, portions of his correspondence with 
Bishops Berkeley, Sherlock, and Lowth, and Archbishop Seeker, were 
published, and fully justified the high reputation in which he had 
been held while in life. His death, which occurred on the 6th of 
January, 1772, was very peaceful, and, though sudden, entirely unat- 
tended with pain. He expired while sitting in his chair, and convers- 
ing on his approaching departure, with his family. 

The following inscription, composed by his friend and successor in 
the presidency of King's College, Rev. Dr. Cooper, was placed upon 
his monument, in Christ Church, Stratford : — 

M. S. 
Samuelis Johnson, D. D., 
Cullegii Regalis, Novi Eboraci 
PrtBsidis primi, 
et hujus Ecclesiae nupe Rectoris 
Natus die 14to Octob. 1696 
Obiit 6to Jan. 1772. 
" If decent dignity, and modest mien, 
Tiie cheerful heart, and countenance serene ; 
If pure religion, and unsullied truth, 
His age's solace, and his search in youth ; 
If piety, in all the paths he trod. 
Still rising vig'rous to his Lord and God; 
If charity, through all the race he ran 
Still wishing well, and doing good to man ; 
If lenrning, free from pedantry and pride, — 
U faith and virtue, walking side by side ; 
If well to mark, his being's aim and end, — 
To shine through life, a husband, father, friend ; 
If these ambitions in thy soul can raise, 
Excite thy reverence, or demand thy praise ; 
Reader — ere yet ihou quit this earthly scene, 
Revere his name, and be what he has been." 

Myles Coopeb. 




Caleb Bingham, who enjoyed an enviable reputation as a private 
and public teacher in Boston, Mass., toward the close of the last century, 
and, who, through his school books, was, perhaps, more extensively 
known than any contemporary teacher in the United States, was born 
at Salisbury, in the north-western corner of Connecticut, April loth, 
1757. His father* was a very respectable farmer, and his mother a 
descendant of Roger Conant,f first among the worthies that settled at 
Salem, before Boston was founded by Governor Winthrop. 

Little is known of the youth of Caleb. Salisbury was a new town, 
containing many Indians of such doubtful character, that the worship- 
pers on Sunday, went to church armed ; and the log house used for a 
church had portholes like the forts of older New England towns, and 
a guard was stationed at the door. Such a state of society would 
afford but little chance for a regular education, and the tradition is, 
that Caleb was prepared for college by the Rev. Dr. Salter. The sis- 
ters remembered that Caleb was a slender boy, while his brother 
Daniel was unusually robust, and there can be no doubt that the 
same mistake was made, in this case, that is every day made in our 
agricultural districts ; the boy who needed air and exercise was con- 

* There may be no difficulty in tracing his paternal ancestors. The tradition is that Jabez, 
the grandfather of Caleb, presented his son Daniel, with a hundred acres of land in Salisbury, 
near the mountain, and he, after the birth of Caleb, purchased the beautiful farm between the 
Lakes Washinee and Washining, and lived there till his decease, February 1, 1805. Ilis wife 
had died just a year before him. and the homestead came into the possession of Caleb, whose 
local attachment induced him much against his interest and the advice of his family, to buy 
out the other heirs, and erect a somewhat expensive house adjoining the old mansion in which 
he had spent his youth. 

t Cotton Mather informs us that, about the year 1624, a worthy gentleman, Mr. Roger 
Conant. was sent over from England to Salem, for the purpose of encouraging, strengthening, 
and promoting the settlement of the new country. Soon after his arrival, which was with a 
company of whom he was chief, his son Exercise was born. How many other sons he had 
we are not told, but this Exercise had Josiah and Calf b, and removed into Connecticut, where 
he died. His remains were deposited in the burial ground of the First Society in Mansfield, 
where his tomb stone is still to be seen. Josiah had but one child, Shubael, who was a coun- 
sellor for the state, colonel of the regiment, judge of the county court and of probate, and dea- 
con of the church in Mansfield. Caleb had seven children, of whom Hannah, the younge^^f, 
married Daniel Bingham, and removed to Salisbury, in Connecticut, where Caleb, their second 
son, the subject of this memoir, was born. 


fined tc, \s Lat is more fatal than Lard labor in a penitentiary, the nar- 
row walls of a school-room or college, and the hearty boy, who was 
able to endure such inactivity, was sent into the field. Whether 
Caleb had shown any unusual love for study is not known, but if he 
was feeble, as seems to be the fact, he was probably indulged, and allow- 
ed to read while his brother was at work. 

The family of Dr. Wheelock, the founder of Moor's school and 
Dartmouth college, and that of Mr. Kirkland, the distinguished mis- 
sionary to the Indians, were related to the Binghams, and this proba- 
bly led Caleb to Dartmouth rather than to New Haven. Moor's Indian 
school had been removed to the wilderness a few years before, and the 
high character of the elder Wheelock, had even obtained aid from 
England to found a college, where the scattered condition of the in- 
habitants made even common schools a rarity. Mr. Bingham entered 
college in 1VV9, a bustling period on the frontiers, and he graduated 
in 1782. Immediately after he graduated, he was appointed master 
of Moor's charity school, which was an appendage to the college, and 
under the direction of the same persons who managed the affairs of 
the higher institution. The respectful intercourse that always existed 
between !Mr. Bingham, the Wheelocks, father and son, the professors 
of the college, and the venerable Eden Burroughs, clergyman of the 
town, to much of which the writer was a witness, abundantly proves 
the high estimation in which Mr. Bingham was held as a scholar and 
a man. While an under-graduate, Mr. Bingham united himself with 
the church under the care of Mr. Burroughs, and his aflfection for this 
excellent man no doubt led him to take the interest he did in endeav- 
oring to check the wayward career of his son, the somewhat notorious 
Stephen Burroughs. 

Mr. Bingham removed to Boston, about the year 1784.* He had 

* It is suspected that, on the way to Boston, he stopped at Andover, and had the care of 
Pliillips Academy, a few months, after Dr. Pearson left it to assume the professorship of Hebrew 
at Harvard college ; for the venerable Josiah Quincy thinks he was for several months a pupil 
of Mr. Bingham at Andover, where an unsuccessful attempt was made to induce him to be- 
come the permanent Principal. There is much truth and feeling in the following extract 
from a letter of this distinguished man, and to fully appreciate the tribute, it should be known 
that the parties were at the opposite extremes in politics, when such a position generally em- 
bittered all the intercourse of life. " As the subject lies in my mind," says Mr. Quincy, " in 
the autumn of 1785, Mr. Bingham succeeded Dr. Pearson, in the care of the Academy, but did 
not remain longer than the April of 1786. While there, I was his pupil, and recollect well 
that his kind and affectionate manner of treating the scholars gained their attachment, so that 
his determination not to become a candidate for the permanent instructorship was a subject 
of great disappointment to the boys. All my impressions concerning him are of the most 
favorable kind. He was a man of heart ; and his feelings led him to take great interest in the 
character and success of his pupils, and, as is usual with such men, his kind affections were 
reciprocated by those who enjoyed his instruction." 

This reminiscence, which is entitled to great weight, places Mr. B.'s advent iu Boston, much 
later than the time named by his family, and as he married in 1786, it hardly allows a reason- 
able time for forming an acquaintance, which must have commenced after his arrival. 


learned that there was an opening for an enterprising teacher in Bos- 
ton, and he came with the strongest recommendations from the gov- 
ernment of the college. 

The main object of Mr. Bingham in coming to Boston was to 
establish a school for girls ; and the project was of the most promising 
description, for the town of Boston had even then become eminent 
for its wealth and intelligence, and, strange to say, was deficient in 
public and private schools for females. It certainly is a remarkable 
fact, that, while the girls of every town in the state were allowed and 
expected to attend the village schools, no public provision seems to 
have been made for their instruction in the metropolis, and men of 
talents do not seem to have met with any encouragement to open 
private schools for this all important class of children. The only 
schools in the city to which girls were admitted, were kept by the 
teachers of public schools, between the forenoon and afternoon ses- 
sions, and how insufiicient this chance for an education was, may be 
gathered from the fact, that all the public teachers who opened pri- 
vate schools, were uneducated men, selected for their skill in pen- 
manship and the elements of arithmetic. The schools were called 
writing schools ; and, although reading and spelling were also taught 
in them, this instruction was only incidental, being carried on, we can 
not say "attended to," while the teachers were making or mending 
pens, preparatory to the regular writing lesson. 

This had probably been the state of things for more than a century, 
and at the advent of Mr. Bingham, there were only two such schools, 
while there were two others devoted exclusively to the study of Latin 
and Greek, although the pupils of these latter schools hardly num- 
bered one tenth of the others. Of course, the proposal of Mr. Bing- 
ham to open a school, in which girls should be taught, not only 
writing and arithmetic, but, reading, spelling and English grammar, 
met with a hearty reception, and his room, which was in State street, 
from which schools and dwelling houses have been banished nearly 
half a century,* was soon filled with children of the most respectable 
families. There does not seem to have been any competition, and Mr. 
Bingham had the field to himself for at least four years before any 
movement was made to improve the old public system, or to extend 
the means of private instruction. 

At that time, and for more than a century and a half, the public 
schools of Boston, and indeed, those of the state had been under the 
control and supervision of the selectmen, three to nine citizens, elect- 

• Probably in the building on the lower corner of Devonshire and State streets, afterwards 
the Post Office. 


ed annually to manage the financial and other concerns of tlie sev- 
eral towns, without much, if any, regard to their literary qualifications. 
The selectmen of Boston were generally merchants, several of whom, 
at the time under consideration, had daughters or relatives in the 
school of Mr. Bingham. It was natural that the additional expense 
thus incurred, for they were taxed to support the public schools, from 
which their daughters were excluded, should lead them to inquire why 
such a preference was given to parents with boys ; and the idea seem- 
ed, for the first time, to be started, that the prevailing system was not 
only imperfect, but evidently unfair. The simplest and most nat- 
ural process would have been to open the schools to both sexes, as 
the spirit of the laws required, but this would have left the instruction 
in the hand of the incompetent writing masters, when a higher order 
of teachers was required ; or it would have involved the dismission 
of all the writing masters, a bold step, which the committee dared 
not to hazard, because many citizens were opposed to any innovation, 
and the friends of the masters were so influential, that no change was 
practicable, which did not provide for their support. After much con- 
sultation, therefore, there being some complaint of the insufficient 
number of the schools, the school committee proposed the only plan 
which seemed to secure the triple object, — room for the girls, employ- 
ment for the old masters, and the introduction of others better qual- 

The new plan was to institute three new schools, to be called 
Reading Schools, in which reading, spelling, grammar and perhaps 
geography, should be taught by masters to be appointed ; the two 
old writing schools to be continued, a new one established ; and one 
of the Latin schools to be abolished. As no rooms were prepared, 
temporary ones were hired, so that the same pupils attended a writing 
school in one building half the day, and a reading school in a diflfer- 
ent building, at a considerable distance, and under a different and in- 
dependent teacher, the other half. Each reading school had its cor- 
responding writing school, and while the boys were in one school, the 
girls were in the other, alternating forenoon and afternoon, and chang- 
ing the half day once a month, because, Thursday and Saturday after- 
noons being vacation, this arrangement was necessary to equalize the 
lessons taught in the separate schools. This system afterwards acquir- 
ed the name of the double-headed system, and it was continued, 
essentially, for more than half a century, in spite of all the defects and 
abuses to which it was exposed. Even when the town built new 
school houses, the upper room was devoted to the reading school, and 
the lower to the writing, the masters never changing rooms, and the 


boys and girls alternating as before. The points gained, however,' 
were very important, the girls were provided for, bettea* teachers were 
appointed, and the sexes were separated into different rooms. This 
latter provision, which we consider inestimable, and the great distinc- 
tion of the Boston schools, seems to have been the result of accident 
or necessity, but the deepest insight into human nature, the profound- 
est sagacity, the highest wisdom, could not have invented a more 
effectual barrier against vice and depravity. Sentimentalists some- 
times tell us of the beneficial influence of the gentler upon the ruder 
sex in mixed schools, but a long and wide experience has satisfied the 
writer that the evil influences arising from mixed schools, whether prima- 
ry, high, or normal, are incalculable. Mr. Bingham would never have 
taught a mixed school, and he foresaw that even the primary schools 
of Boston, would be nurseries of vice, if, as was proposed, the separa- 
tion, which existed in the upper schools, was not extended to them. 

As no provision was made in the reading schools for any exercise 
in wanting, no such exercise was required there ; and the immense 
advantage arising from having the teacher able to give instruction in 
penmanship, as well as in orthography, and composition, was wholly 
lost. The writer passed through an entire course in the Boston 
schools, and was never required to write a sentence or a word of Eng- 
lish. The first three reading masters were good penmen, and Mr. 
Bingham was distinguished for his skill, but this was not afterward 
considered an essential qualification of the reading master ; and when, 
forty years afterward, a change was proposed in the schools, by which 
the "double-headed system" was to be reduced to a single head, the 
reading masters were found as incompetent to teach penmanship as 
the writing masters had always been to teach any thing else. Another 
amusing error prevailed in the schools for more than a quarter of a 
century. The committee adopted the notion that girls could not 
attend school in Boston, where there were sidewalks, although they 
did in the country where there were none ; and so the girls were only 
allowed to attend the .schools six months, from April to October, and, 
during the winter months, half the boys attended the reading schools, 
while the other half attended the writing, alternating as the boys and 
girls did in summer. 

Before the new system went into operation, the great object was, to 
secure the services of Mr. Bingham, and he was accordingly appointed 
with a salary of two hundred pounds. His letter accepting the appoint- 
ment, is dated Dec. 12, 1789, and is characteristically modest : — "He 
is not sure that he shall fulfill their expectations, and hopes the pecu- 
niary sacrifice he makes by relinquishing his private school will be a 


public gain." The same room lie had before occupied, was hired by 
the town, and Jan. 4, 1790, the new system went into operation. 
Previous to this reform, the writing masters had been allowed to teach 
private schools, but this was soon strictly forbidden, and a general re- 
monstrance signed by all the reading and writing masters, did not 
move the committee to rescind the regulation. Much dissatisfaction 
prevailed, but Mr. Bingham, not having opened a private school, did 
not enter icto the controversy so zealously as Master Carter and some 
others. The small compensation of the teachers, and the want of 
schools for girls, under the old plan, had led to this abuse, but, while 
we praise the committee for their discernment in abolishing the priv- 
ilege, we can not praise their liberality in refusing to raise the salaries 
according to the loss evidently incurred. 

Another evil in the new system also held its ground for many 
years. Boys bad been admitted into the Latin school at the early 
age of seven years, on the mistaken idea, that the very young are 
best qualified to learn a dead language, as, they undoubtedly are to 
to learn a spoken one. The age was increased to ten years by the 
new system, but, as before, no provision was made in the Latin school 
for their instruction in English, in penmanship, or in any of the com- 
mon branches. To remedy this serious defect, the Latin scholars were 
allowed to attend the writing schools two hours, forenoon or afternoon, 
and about thirty availed themselves of the privilege, although they 
were obliged to neglect one school to attend the other, and unpunctu- 
ality and disorder, in all the schools, were the natural consequence. 

The prohibition, to teach private schools, does not appear to have 
been of long continuance ; for, although the records do not show that 
the order was repealed, these intermediate private schools were common 
early in the present century, and permission to the Latin scholars to 
attend the writing schools was withdrawn. The teacher of the Lat- 
in school in connection with a writing master, kept a private English 
school in the Latin school-room, while the writer, was a pupil there, in 
1808, and the writer himself attended a private school kept by a reading 
master in another part of the town. Of course, it was a passport to 
favor in every public school, to attend the master's private school also, 
and those who only went to the public school, were considered a 
somewhat inferior caste. Sometimes the ushers opened private schools 
in the evening, but these were chiefly attended by apprentices, and 
boys who attended no other school. 

Every master was allowed one assistant called an usher, and sev- 
eral of those first employed, were afterwards advanced to the master- 
ship, but this was always treated as a very subordinate situation ; for 


the salary could not tenipt a man of any talent, and the committee soon 
let it be seen that ushers were not candidates for promotion. 

Complaints of insufficient pay, were constantly made in the^shape 
of petitions from both masters and ushers, but no change was made dur- 
ing the official career of Mr. Bingham. Mr. B., was a modest and some- 
times even timid man, but there were at least, two occasions on which 
he showed that there was no lack of moral courage, when his cou'rse was 
clearly indicated by duty. He had not long been in office, before he, 
and all the other teachers, had reason to complain of the unpunctu- 
ality of the town in paying their salaries. The treasurer was accus- 
tomed, either for the want of funds, or for the sake of speculation in 
the stock he created, to give a paper to the teachers, certifying that 
the town owed them a certain sum, and this certificate, which was 
called a " town order," the needy masters were obliged to sell at a 
considerable discount. As remonstrance might be followed by dis- 
mission, the teachers bore the imposition a long time ; but, at last, 
Mr. Bingham, smarting under the repeated losses that he had suf- 
fered, and not readily finding a purchaser, advertised a "a town order 
for sale at a liberal discount." At a town meeting that occurred soon 
after, the insult, thus publicly oflfered to the town, was the subject of 
severe remark, and the meeting, highly indignant, despatched an 
officer to command Master Bingham instantly, to appear and apolo- 
gize for the offence. He promptly accompanied the officer to Faneuil 
Hall, and after the offence was formally stated to him by the chair- 
man of the selectmen, he was called upon for his apology. Mr. B., 
nothing daunted, stretched himself to his full height, and, in a voice that 
no one failed to hear, gave a brief history of his experience, with which 
the citizens were, probably, unacquainted, and then concluded with these 
words : "I have a family and need the money. I have done my part 
of the engagement faithfully, and have no apology to make to those 
who have failed to do theirs. All I can do is to promise, that, if the 
town will punctually pay my salary in future, I will never advertise 
their orders for sale again." The treasurer immediately slapped him 
on the shoulder and said, Bingham, you are a good fellow ; call at my 
office after the meeting and I will give you the cash. Mr. B., had little 
trouble after that in collecting what was due him for his services.* 

Among the beneficial changes of the new system, was the addition 
of twelve citizens to the board of selectmen, for the sole purpose of 

* To the other instance of personal courage, which happened twenty years or more after- 
ward, the writer was a witness. The government of the town had determined to break up 
a large settlement of houses of ill-fame, and the accompanying haunts of vice, that had long 
been a disgrace to the town, and an annoyance to all peaceable citizens iu the neighborhood. 
An active police officer, named Reed, had made several arrests, and was singled out by a des- 
perate mob as the victim of their vengeance. This mob, armed with clubs and mi.<siles of 


superintending the schools. A law authorizing this change had been 
enacted by the legislature, mainly at the request of the metropolis; 
but the advantage expected from it was almost neutralized in Boston, 
by the retention of the selectmen as ex-officio members of the school 
committee; the chairman of the former always presiding at the meet- 
ings. Those acquainted with the history of Boston will recognize, in 
the following list of the first school committee proper, an amount of 
intellect and character rarely seen in our day. 

John Lathrop, D. D., of the North Church. 
Samuel West, D. D., of the West Church. 
James Freeman, D. D., of the Stone Chapel. 
N. Appleton, M. D., ^ 

Thomas Welch, M. D., > all distinguished physicians. 
Aaron Dexter, M. D., ; 

George Richards Minot, Judge and Historian of Massachusetts, after- 
Christopher Gore, LL.D. [ward Governor. 
Hon. Jonathan Mason, Jr., Senator. 
Hon. William Tudor, Judge, 
Hon. Thomas Dawes, Judge. 
Hon. John Coffin Jones, Merchant and Senator. 

Not one of this first committee was a common man, but no one is 
now living to witness the result of his labors. Their unanimity in 
adopting the reform, and selecting Mr. Bingham to lead in the im- 
provement, is no faint compliment to the rank and ability of their 

Allusion has been made to some of the alterations introduced by 
the new system, but, perhaps, the state of education may be better 
illustrated by an extract or two from the records. One regulation 

every description, pursued Reed, who, running for his life, dashed into Mr. B's. yard for shel* 
ter. Mr. B., opened the door to him, told him how to pass through the house and escape ; and 
then went out to face the mob. He had no hat on, and his white hair and dignified personal 
appearance, for a moment quieted the rioters. He seized the happy moment, and, standing 
on an elevation where he was seen by the crowd that beset the house, he said in the powerful 
voice, that he is said to have inherited from his father, '• Fellow citizens, you are breaking the 
laws, and I command you in the name of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to disperse. 
I am a magistrate. " His family urged him not to venture out, for it would cost him his life . 
but he saved the officer, and dispersed the mob, in less time than it has required to record the 

The personal appearance of Mr. Bingham, was favorable to such a demonstration.. His 
height was about six feet, and his frame well proportioned and well developed. His face was 
pleasant, but rather short. His eyes were light blue, his nose short and rather sharp, his hair 
was dressed with earlocks, powdered, and braided behind, exactly in the style of Washing- 
ton's. He wore almost to the last, a cocked hat, black coat and small clothes, with a white 
vest and stock, and black silk hose. In winter, he wore white topped boots, and in summer, 
shoes with silver buckles. His appearance and manners were those of a gentleman ; he was 
respectful to all ; affable, gentle, and free from any of the traits which are apt to cling to the 
successful pedagogue. At the age of sixty, he began to stoop a little in consequence of disease 
that principally affected his head, and his nerves began to shake ; but though represented to 
be feeble in his youth, there was no appearance of debility in manhood. He could dress him- 
self and walk the room twenty-four hours before he died. 


requires the writing masters to teach " writing, arithmetic, and the 
branches usually tauyht in town achools, inckiding vulgar and decimal 
fractions." Another regulation required the reading mastei-s to teach 
"spelling, accent, and the reading of prose and vei-se, and to instruct 
the children in English grammar, epistolary writing and composition." 
"Boys and girls were to be admitted at seven years of age, if previ- 
ously instructed in the woman schools," which, it will be recollected, 
were all private schools, over which the committee had no control, 
and to which those only who could "j^ay were admitted. 

The Latin school under Master William Hunt, was kept in a small, 
square, brick building, which stood on a lot opposite the present City 
Hall, in School street. The north reading school, was in Middle street, 
and the north writing, in North Bennett street. The central reading 
was in State street, and the south writing, was at the corner of West 
and Tremont street, the south reading, being in Pleasant street. The 
central writing, under Carter, is said, in the record, to be in Tremont 
street. The north Latin school, that was discontinued, stood on a lot 
by the side of the north writing school. 

The books used in the reading schools were, the Holy Bible, 
Webster's Spelling Book, Webster's Third Part, and the Young 
Lady's Accidence. The Children's Friend and Morse's Geography 
were allowed, not required; and "Newspapers were to be introduced, 
occasionally, at the discretion of the masters.*' This is the first time* 
that the writer ever saw newspapers required by a school committee, 
but there can be no doubt that the regulation was the result of true 
wisdom. The misfortune was, that the rule was entirely neglected, as 
was that requiring composition to be taught in connection with Eng- 
lish grammar. The probability is that, for twenty years, not a news- 
paper was read in any school, nor a word written. The Latin school 
was divided into four classes, and the books used were. 

First Class. Second Class. Third Class. Fourth Class. 

Cheever's Accidence. Clarke's Introduction. Csesar. Virgil. 

Cordery. Ward's Latin Gram. Tally's Epist.or Offic's. Cicero's Orations. 

Nomeuclator. Eutropius. Ovid Metamor. Greek Testament. 

JEsop, Latin and Eng. Selectie e Vet. Test. Virgil. Horace. 

VVard'.s Latin Gram. Castalio's Dialogues. Greek Grammar. Homer. 

or Eutropius. Garretson's Exercises. Making Latin from Gradusad Parnassum. 

King's Heathen Gods. Making Latin contin'd. 

The writer remembers Master Hunt, as a frequent visitor at Mr. 
Bingham's bookstore. The committee removed him after several 
years' service under the new system, and the injustice of the removal 
was the burden of his conversation. He taught private pupils several 
years after he left the public service, was a venerable looking man, 

* Comenius did this two hundred years before. Ed. 


and is well represented by his grand children, one of whom has been 
distinguished as a teacher of the same school. 

Furthermore, it was ordered that, in the writing schools, the chil- 
dren "should begin to learn arithmetic at eleven years of age; that, 
at twelve, they should be taught to make pens." Until eleven years 
old, all the pupils did, in a whole forenoon or afternoon, was to write 
one page of a copy book, not exceeding ten lines. When they be- 
gan to cipher, it rarely happened that they performed more than two 
suras in the simplest rules. Theae were set in the pupil's manuscript, 
and the operation was there recorded by him. No printed book was 
used. Such writing and ciphering, however, were too much for one 
day, and boys who ciphered, only did so every other day. If it be asked, 
how were the three hours of school time occupied ? The answer is, 
in one of three ways, — in mischief; in play ; or in idleness. The pupils 
were never taught to make their own pens, and it occupied the master 
and usher two hours of every session to prepare them. The books were 
generally prepared by them out of school hours. The introduction 
of metallic pens, relieved the teachers from their worst drudgery, and 
left them free to inspect the writing of their pupils, which was impos- 
sible before. 

In the reading schools, the course was for every child to read one 
verse of the Bible, or a short paragraph of the Third Part. The master 
heard the first and second, that is, the two highest classes, and the usher 
heard the two lowest. While one class was reading, the other studied 
the spelling lesson. The lesson was spelled by the scholars in turn, 
so that the classes being large, each boy seldom spelled more 
than one or two words. In grammar, the custom was to recite six 
or more lines once a fortnight, and to go through the book three 
times before any application of it was made to what was called pars- 
ing. No geography was prepared for the schools until Mr. Bingham 
left them. Morse's abridgment began to be a reading book about 
the year 1800, and soon after, Mr. Bingham prepared his little Cate- 
chism, which was probably based upon it. When Mr. B's American 
Preceptor was published, it displaced Webster's Third Part. His 
Child's Companion superseded Webster's Spelling Book in the lower 
classes, and the Columbian Orator, was the reading book of the upper 
class, to the displacement of the Bible, which, instead of being read 
by the children, was read by the reading masters as a religious exer- 
cise, at the opening of school in the morning, and at its close in the 
afternoon. The writing masters were not required to read or pray 
for fifteen or twenty years after the great reform.* 

* The above, the writer believes is a fair account of the system, which has given Boston an 


The Franklin Medals were introduced during the public service of 
Mr. Bingham, but he never heartily approved of the influence thus 
exerted ; for it was evident, he said, that only a very small portion of 
the pupils had any hope of acquiring a medal, or made any effort 
to do so, while the disappointment of many who did endeavor, 
caused him no little pain. It is to be hoped that the school commit- 
tee will contrive to strip this well meant bequest of the great Bos- 
tonian of its unequal and often injurious influence. 

There were three reading masters ; Mr. Bingham was undoubtedly 
the first, and the second in rank was Elisha Ticknor. This gentleman 
was also from Connecticut, and a graduate of Dartmouth, and is sup- 
posed to have been invited to Boston, to assist Mr. Bingham in his 
private school. The writer well remembers him as a tall, thin, erect 
and grave man, a deacon of the old South Church, and more stiff" and 
ceremonious than his remote relative, Mr. Bingham. He married a 
widow lady of some property, soon after he took the South Reading 
School, and, becoming dissatisfied with the slender income of a pub- 
lic teacher, he resigned his office at the end of five years, turned 
grocer, and by frugality and strict attention to business acquired a 
handsome property before his decease, which took place in 1827. 

The third reading master was Samuel Cheney, who was teaching 
in Tyngsborough, Mass., when he was appointed to the north school 
in Boston. He had graduated at some college, but his letter of ap- 
plication, now on the files of the school committee, indicates a very 
low state of English scholarship. He did not give satisfaction, and 
was dismissed in 1*793, although many parents of his pupils, and 
several influential citizens, strove hard to induce the committee to re- 
tain him. 

The chief writing master was John Tileston. He had long been in 
the public service, and by faithful attention to his narrow round of 
duties, was retained, although destitute of energy and invention. He 
was born at Braintree, near Boston, about 1738, and, when a boy, was 
taken by Master Proctor, (deacon of the First Baptist Church in Bos- 

enviable reputation throughout the world. It is evident that it must not be measured by what 
education ought to be, but by what it had been. It is by no means certain that the schools of 
Boston were any better than those of the country before 1790 ; for, although the Boston schools 
were open the year round, while the country schools did not average six months, it is claimed 
that as much was learned in the six months as in the twelve, and while the school age was 
restricted to fourteeu years in Boston, it was unlimited in the country, and girls as well as 
boys were taught in less crowded schools. If it be said that Boston has maintained a high 
rank in literature and mercantile enterprise, it may be also said, with truth, that the greater 
number of her literary men. and most enterprising merchants, were not born or educated in 
Boston. Of all the first set of teachers under the new system, not one was of Boston, and of 
the many hundreds that have succeeded them, the writer can not call to mind a half dozen 


ton,) to be liis apprentice. Before the Revolution, he became an usher, 
and, at the death of Deacon Proctor, was appointed master. In this 
office he continued till 1823, when, at the age of eighty-five, or there- 
about, he was allowed a pension of six hundred dollars a year, and the 
rank of master, without any school. This was the first case of a pen- 
sion on the records of the town, and but one other case has since oc- 
curred. How forcibly does this neglect of useful citizens contrast 
with the practice that prevails in every civilized country, of pension- 
ing soldiers, often the most worthless members of the community, 
whose life, at best, is one continued warfare upon the true interests of 
society, and at variance with the leading principles of the Gospel of 
the Prince of Peace. Master Tileston was a very short and thick 
man, of a fair and ruddy complexion, and always wore the horsehair 
wig, bushy, but not curled, that was worn by the clergy of Boston, 
until near the end of the last century. AVhcn young, some accident 
by fire had crippled his right hand, and yet his penmanship was 
elegant for the times. He loved routine ; and probably, if he had 
taught a school a century, he would never have improved any arrange- 
ment of it. Printed arithmetics were not used in the Boston schools 
till after the wi;iter left them, and the custom was for the master to 
write a problem or two in the manuscript of the pupil every other day. 
No boy was allowed to cipher till he was eleven, years old, and writ- 
ing and ciphering were never performed on the same day. Master 
Tileston had thus been taught by Master Proctor, and all the sums he 
set for his pupils were copied exactly from his old manuscript. Any 
boy could copy the work from the manuscript of any other further 
advanced than himself, and the writer never heard of any explanation 
of any principle of arithmetic while he was at school. Indeed, the 
pupils believed that the master could not do the sums he set for them, 
and a story is told of the good old gentleman, which may not be true, 
but which is so characteristic as to afford a very just idea of the course 
of instruction, as well as of the simplicity of the superannuated peda- 
gogue. It is said that a boy, who had done the sum set for him by 
Master Tileston, carried it up, as usual, for examination. The old 
gentleman, as usual, took out his manuscript, compared the slate with 
it, and pronounced it wrong. The boy went to his seat and reviewed 
his work, but finding no error in it, returned to the desk, and asked 
Mr. Tileston, to be good enough to examine the work, for he could 
find no error in it. This was too much to require of him. He 
growled, as his habit was when displeased, but he compared the sums 
again, and at last, with a triumphant smile, exclaimed, "see here, 
you nurl]/ (gnarly) wretch, you have got it, * If four tons of hay cost 


SO much, what will seven tons cost ?'' When it should be, " If four 
tons of English liay cost so and so. Now go and do it all over 
again." Whetlier this be true or not, there is no doubt of the truth 
of the two following anecdotes, which are told more to show the state 
of instruction in the schools, than to expose the incompetency of the 
teacher, who was evidently retained from pity or affectionate regard, 
long after his usefulness was at an end. Once, after the writer had 
done the two sums in subtraction, which had been set in his manu- 
script, being tired of idleness, and seeing the master at leisure, he 
ventured to go up to the desk and ask the master to set him another 
sum. This was a bold innovation, and the old gentleman considered 
it nothing less, but, as the pupil was somewhat of a favorite, he only 
growled as he took the manuscript, and said, "Uh, you nurly wretch, 
you are never satisfied." Again, after the writer was apprenticed to 
Caleb Bingham, Master Tileston called at the bookstore, and, out of 
respect for the venerable man, the pupil wiped his pen on a rag that 
hung by the desk for that purpose, and suspended his work. The old 
gentleman approached the desk, and carefully raising the rag with his 
thumb and forefinger, said, " What is this for ?" " To wipe the pen 
on, sir, when we stop writing," said the respectful pupil. " Uh ! it 
may be well enough," said he, " but Master Proctor had no such thing." 
Master Tileston, always wiped out his pens with his little finger, and 
then cleaned his finger on the white hairs just under his wig. His 
model. Master Proctor, had been dead half a century, perhaps, but he 
still lived in the routine that he had established. When will school 
committees discover that it is incalculably cheaper to pension one 
such deserving and faithful servant, than intellectually to starve a 
whole generation of children. 

James Carter, the master of the centre writing school, that was 
connected with Mr. Bingham's reading school, was a different man. 
He also had been a public teacher many years before the great change, 
and was renowned for his elegant penmanship. Imperious in school, 
he lived freely, and at least to the full extent of his means. Accus- 
tomed to what was called good society, he had the free and easy man- 
ners of his associates, and was not particularly fitted to mould the 
manners of the young. He appears to have ruled the schools and the 
committee until the change of systems, and he did not yield with a 
good grace to that order of things which brought with it some re- 
straint and more labor, while it made his office subordinate, in fact, to 
the head of the reading school. He died, however, in the harness, 
for he could not afford to resign the salary allowed him although in- 
adequate to his support. -p 


The third writing master was John Vinall, who was born in Bos- 
ton, and had been a teacher in Newburyport, seventeen years before 
he obtained the south writing school in his native city. He was a 
very unpopular man, and complaints, especially of coarseness of speech, 
were made to the committee; and, though he indignantly denied their 
truth, the opposition continued until he resigned, March 28th, 1795. 
He was tall, thin, always meanly dressed, when the writer became 
acquainted with him, and his features pock-marked were very ugly, but 
a long and familiar acquaintance with him leads the wnter to say that, 
though miserly in his habits, and having a doubtful reputation as a 
justice of the peace, there was nothing in his language, or manners, 
to indicate that there was any truth in the charges brought against 
him as a teacher. He early purchased an estate on Beacon street, 
that afterwards became very valuable ; and he was said to be useful as 
a political agent to his neighbor, Governor Hancock. It may have 
been so, but this would rather account for the prejudices against him, 
than prove him an unprincipled man. In politics he was a Jefferso- 
nian republican, and this was enough, in those days, to ruin the pros- 
pects of any man who sought distinction in Boston. Mr. Vinall was 
the only teacher besides Mr. Bingham, that ventured to publish a 
book, and he composed an arithmetic, which never sold, and which, 
though recommended to others by the school committee, seems never 
to have been adopted for use in the Boston schools. He died in 
Boston about the time that Mr. Bingham did, leaving a son and two 
very worthy unmarried daughters. 

While a private teacher in Boston, Mr. Bingham had published a 
small English grammar, which, being intended for his female pupils, 
he called " The Young Lady's Accidence^ or a short and easy Intro- 
duction to English Grammar; designed principally for the use of 
Young Learners^ more especially those of the Fair Sex, though proper 
for either.^'' When the author entered the public service, his book 
followed him. It was the first English grammar ever used in the 
Boston schools, and was still in use there when the writer entered 
them in 1801. It continued to be used until "An Abridgment of 
Murray's Grammar, by a Teacher of Youth"* was substituted, and 
the sale of the Accidence declined, until at the author's death in 1817, 
it was no longer an object for any one to print it. It was a very small 
book of 60 pages, and was probably only intended for an abstract of 
principles to be more fully explained by the teacher. This was the second 
American English grammar, Webster's having preceded it a year or 
two. The British grammar, a better book than either, had been re- 

• Asa Bullard, probably, the successor of Mr. Tickuor, at the South Reading School. 


printed in 1784, and Dr. Lowth's had been reprinted for the use of 
Harvard College, but they were little known, and not at all used in 
public or private schools. 

Mr. BinMiara and Noah Webster took advantao^e of the dearth of 
school books at the revival of common schools, which followed the war 
of Independence, and they fairly divided the country between them. 
Until their day, the only reading books used in the schools were the 
Bible and psalter, with such meagre lessons as were found in the New 
England Primer and the spelling books of Fenning, Moore, Dilwortli 
and Perry which were successively introduced before the Ilevolution, 
but all superseded by Webster's or Bingham's soon after that event. 
Perry's Sure Guide was much used, and died hard, after having un- 
dergone a revision in the hands of Isaiah Thomas, Jr., a son of the 
venerable printer of Worcester. The New England Primer never 
deserved the name of a spelling book, but was probably valued and 
used for the abridgment it contained of the assembly's catechism, 
■which was always formally taught in all the public schools of Massa- 
chusetts, until toward the close of the eighteenth century. It was 
disused in the Boston schools some years before it lost ground in the 
rural districts; but, even in Boston, it was retained in the private dame 
schools for young children, as late as 1806. Spelling having been 
left to the writing masters of Boston more than a century, it might 
naturally be inferred that the graduates of the schools were all bad 
spellers, but there is no appearance of any such deficiency in the 
manuscripts that exist, and the probability is, that, on the introduc- 
tion of new branches of study, spelling became neglected, and this 
important and very difficult stud}^ never, probably, was in a worse 
condition than it is at the present moment.* 

Our rivals both made reading and spelling books; and the reading 
books of Mr. Bingham far outstripped those of Mr. Webster, but the 
spelling book of the latter far distanced the Child's Companion of 
Mr. Bingham, which was a smaller book, and treated rather as an 
introduction to Webster's than a complete vocabulary. It was but 
little used when Mr. Bingham died, and now, like the Young Lady's 
Accidence, is merely a curiosity. The American Preceptor and Colum- 
bian Orator of Mr. Bingham contain few original pieces by him, but 
the selections were more lively than those of Webster, and better 
adapted to the taste of the community, which was not over critical 
or refined, and they held their ground against all competitors for at 

•The writer has, in his hands, letters from more than five hundred school committee men, 
and spelling exercises of more than five thousand teachers, male, and female, to corroborate 
the opinion above expressed. 


Jeast a quarter of a century * The chief feature of Mr. Bingham's 
two books, was their original dialogues. Who wrote those in the 
American Preceptor is uncertain, but those in the Orator were mainly 
written by David Everett, a Dartmouth graduate, who came to Bos- 
ton, and established the Boston Patriot some years afterward. lie 
was no poet, but, in sport, wrote for the Orator that little piece, "You'd 
scarce expect one of my age, &c.," which has been the charm of the 
young American orators for half a century. 

When geography began to be read in our public schools, and class 
books were read long before any lessons were recited or any m.ips 
used, Mr. Bingham prepared the small " Astronomical and Geograph- 
ical Catechism," based upon Dr. Morse's School Geography, which 
was read occasionally by the highest class in the Boston reading 
schools. Many copies of the Catechism were sold annually, and, 
meagre as it was, it was the only book used, and was recited literally, 
without any explanation or illustration by teacher or pupil. 

Mr. Bingham, in connection with his eldest daughter, published a 
small volume of "Juvenile Letters," a collection of familiar epistles 
between children, calculated to introduce them to the forms of letter- 
writing and English composition. He also translated Atala, an Indian 
tale by Chateaubriand, which is almost the only one of his works by 
which his style of English composition can be judged. Mr. Bingham 
was a good French scholar, and spoke that language fluently, but 
where he learned it is unknown. The translation of Atala was well 
executed, and several neat editions were printed and sold. 

Mr. Bingham had a high reputation as a penman, and pupils came 
from a distance to receive lessons of him. He never taught penman- 
ship after he entered the pubhc service, but he retained a love for the 
art, and was often employed to open and ornament books of record, 
and to write diplomas. When Jenkins, the writing professor, pub- 
lished his system, Mr. Bingham did all the writing gratuitously. 
Soon after Mr. Bingham left the school in 1796, he published a set of 
copy slips, probably the first engraved slips ever published in America. 
The coarse and fine copies were in separate books, the former being 
engraved from patterns of his own writing, and the latter from those 
by the daughter before mentioned. They were both engraved by 
Samuel Hill, one of the earliest Boston engravers, but, though well 
done for the times, they would not be much esteemed now as patterns. 
Mr. Carter was far superior as a penman, but neither must be judged 
by the taste that now prevails. 

• When the writer became their proprietor, they were little used, and he projected and 
published that series known as the Pierpont Readers, which for years had a run at least 
equal to their predecessors. 



Mr. Bingliam published no other w§rk that can be called original. 
He republished an historical grammar, making some slight additions 
to adapt it to our schools. He published two or three editions of 
Sermons by Dr. Logan, a Scotch divine, and he edited an edition of 
the Memoii"s of Stephen Burroughs. A publisher in Albany, hearing 
of his intimacy with the father of Stephen, the venerable pastor to 
whose church Mr, Bingham joined himself wdiile at college, proposed 
to Mr. Bingham to edit an edition. Having more than doubts of the 
utility of such books, Mr. Bingham endeavore^I to dissuade the pub- 
lisher from reviving what was. passing into oblivion ; but, when he 
found that the edition would be printed at any rate, he consented to 
supervise it, and inserted a few notes to explain circumstances, or to 
nullify the evil influence he feared. These are all the literary enter- 
prises in which Caleb Bingham ever engaged as editor or publisher, 
and although they may seem mean by the side of some modern un- 
dertakings, it must be recollected that, although he may have stood 
second to Noah Webster, when they died, he long stood first in the 
number of books published, and always stood first in regard to the num- 
ber published by himself. Moreover, it may be said that not one of 
Mr. Bingham's books proved a failure, while only one of Mr. Webster's, 
the Spelling Book, proved successful. Of course this remark does not 
include the Dictionary, which was published after the decease of Mr. 
Bingham, and owes its success more to others than to the industrious 

The success of Mr. Bingham's books, and the increase of vertigo 
and headache, no doubt brought on by the confinement incident to 
his vocation, induced him to resign his office in September, 1*796, and 
though he lived nearly twenty years afterward, he never resumed the 
business of instruction in any form. He did not lose his interest in 
schools, however, for he not only visited those of Boston, but those 
of New York and other remote cities ; and his store was, for many 
years, the head quarters of the Boston teachers. Brown who succeed- 
ed Bingham ; Bullard who followed Ticknor ; Little, who, with a short 
interval, when Crosby or Sleeper was master, was successor to Cheney ; 

• It it> an amusing circumstance, and shows the uncertainty of biographical notices, that the 
excellent Dr. Allen, whose family was personally intimate with Mr. Bingham's, and who mar- 
ried a daughter of President Wheelock, to whom Mr. Bingham had been a pupil, assistant and 
amanuensis, in his Biographical Dictionary, improved edition, 1632, says of Mr. Bingham, 
" He published an interesting narrative, entitled The Hunters, Young Lady's Accidence., 
1789, Epistolary Correspondence, the Columbian Orator." The " Epistolary Correspondence" 
was the "Juvenile Letters" for cliildren, and " The Hunters" was an anecdote of an accident 
that happened to Hugh Holmes, and an Indian boy of Moor's school. Mr. Bingham, for his 
amusement, wrote the story on a large slate, and the writer of this note copied it on paper, 
drew one or two embellishments for it, and printed it as a picture book for children. It never 
sold, although ti-ue, and very interesting. The style in which it was prixitcU was a warninif. 


SnelHng who followed Carter^ and Rufus Webb who succeeded Vi- 
iiall, were all intimate with Mr. Bingham. The first set, also, kept 
lip their acquaintance, and, probably, the second great reform of the 
schools originated at the book store, for to Elisha Ticknor, more than 
to any man, Boston owes the free Primary Schools, which, in 1819, 
superseded the little private schools, kept by women, in which the 
children of both sexes, for nearly thirty years after the great reform, 
were prepared to enter the reading and writing schools. Mr. Bing- 
ham was a great advocate for these primary free schools, and the 
counsellor whom Mr. Ticknor most highly esteemed ; but both of 
the friends died before the schools were fully established. 

As a bookseller, Mr. Bingham would not now be called enterprising. 
He printed his own books, which were so salable that he procured 
in exchange any thing else printed in the country. His sales of mis- 
cellaneous books were very limited, and his stock in trade what would 
now be called small. His store, No. 44 Cornhill, was a single room, 
not more than twenty by twenty-five feet, and most of the books 
upon his shelves were there the whole period of the writer's appren- 
ticeship. He preferred to let publishers print his books and pay him 
a premium for the privilege ; and from this source he received annu- 
ally six or eight hundred dollars as late as 1816. In the transaction 
of his business he was perfectly just and liberal, but somewhat singu- 
lar. This peculiarity consisted mainly in his unwillingness to incur 
any debt, or to have any thing to do with banks. The writer was 
seven years in his employ, and does not recollect ever to have seen a 
note of hand signed by him. The moment he commenced business, 
he felt the injustice of having an asking and a selling price, and he 
adopted the one-price system and adhered to it through life. Indeed, 
all the booksellers in Boston were induced, probably by him, to form 
an association, and, for twenty years, they had uniform prices and 
fixed rates of discount ; an example that stood alone, and that no 
body of merchants at the present day could be persuaded to imitate. 
Mr. Bingham served several of the first years as secretary, the only 
officer they had. 

The establishment of town libraries, to furnish suitable reading for 
the young, was a favorite design of Mr. Bingham, and a better selec- 
tion of books could generally be found at his store than elsewhere, 
for this purpose. His advice, too, was relied on by town agents, and, 
although the number of libraries sold was not great, he supplied a 
goodly portion of them. When he wished to do something to evince 
his deep attachment to the place of his nativity, in January, 1803, he 
selected a library of one hundred and fifty valuable books, and pre- 


sented them to tlie town of Salisbury, for the use of all children from 
nine to sixteen years of age. The donation was gratefully received 
and diligently used. Trustees managed the library, and the town, 
from time to time, made additions, till the volumes numbered five 
hundred. This was done at a time when a town library was a nov- 
elty, and the effect of this upon the citizens is thus described by 
Judge Church in his centennial address, (1841.) 

"At that time, when books, especially useful to youth, were com- 
paratively scarce, this donation was of peculiar value, and gratefully 
received by the town. It was a small beginning, but it infused into 
the youthful population a new impulse, and a taste for reading, before 
unknown, was soon discoverable amongst the young." A venerable 
minister of the town attributed much of that intelligence, which he 
claimed for the citizens of Salisbury, to the influence of their library ; 
and the lady of a reverend librarian said with much feeling, " I recol- 
lect the joy we girls felt at having a library of our own ; books to 
read of our own. What happy times ! What friendly contests for 
this or that book on delivery days ! The donor's memory was very 
dear to us all, boys and girls, men, women, and children." Mr. Bing- 
ham's letter, accompanying the donation, is almost an apology for the 
liberty taken. He says, " I well remember, when I was a boy, how 
ardently I longed for the opportunity of reading, but had no access 
to a library. It is more than probable that there are, at the present 
time, in my native town, many children who possess the same desire, 
and who are in the like unhappy predicament. This desire, I think 
I have it in my power, in a small degree, to gratify ; and however 
whimsical the project may appear to those who have not considered 
the subject, I can not deny myself the pleasure of making the at- 
tempt." He concludes as follows : " Should it so happen that the 
books should be rejected, or there should be any disagreement, so 
that the object in view is like to be defeated, please retain the books 
till you hear further from me." This letter was written to his brother 

In 1793, before he was a bookseller, Caleb Bingham was the chief 
agent in establishing the Boston library, which, until the recent move- 
ment for a free library, was considered a most important institution. 
It was not free, however, except so far as that any citizen, who could 
afford it, might purchase a share, for about twenty dollars, and be- 
come a proprietor, paying an assessment of two or three dollars a 
year, to meet the expenses and secure an annual addition of books. 
Mr. Bingham had the initiatory meetings at his house, and^officiated 
gratuitously, as librarian for about two years. 


This library now contains about eighteen thousand volumes of val- 
uable books, in French and English, and the proprietors have always 
been amongst the most intelligent and useful citizens of Boston. 
The library room was always over the arch, in front of the old Monu- 
ment in Franklin Place, but the building, which is valuable, and be- 
longs to the proprietors, is about to be demolished. 

Mr. Bingham had some reputation as a singer, and took a leading 
part in the musical exercises when "Washington visited Boston. He 
generally sat and sang with the choir wherever he worshipped. He 
was a religious man from his youth up, but he disappointed the expec- 
tation of his father's family when he opened a school instead of becom- 
ing a minister of the gospel. His faith was that of the orthodox 
congregationalists, and when that remarkable change came over the 
churches of Boston, which made them all Unitarian, he united with 
the few who remained true to their early belief, and endeavored to 
restore the ancient faith of the Xew England churches. Park street 
church was the result, and he was one of three who became respon- 
sible for the price of the land on which that church is situated.* But 
though so attached to his faith that he left the church of Dr. Kirk- 
land, who was remotely related to him, still, neither doctrines nor 
forms could repress the natural kindness and gentleness of his dispo- 
dtion. He had true friends in every branch of the household of 
faith, and all men were brethren, and equal in his eyes, not because 
he was a republican in religion as well as in politics, but because he 
was a sincere and humble Christian. 

He was a kind man, of tender feelings, and ready for any act of philan- 
thropy. His pupils, many of whom still survive, speak of him with the 
greatest respect and affection. In the schoolroom, bis discipline was 
steady but not severe, and when the school committee required the read- 
ing and writing masters to give their separate opinions in writing on the 
subject of discipline, all, except Mr. Bingham, declared that corporal pun- 
ishment was indispensable ; but even he was not sure that it could be en- 
tirely dispensed with, " unless he could select his pupils.'* Three of 
the masters. Carter, Tinall, and Cheney, were early complained of for 
severity, notwithstinding the committee had enjoined upon them all 
to exclude corporal punishment from the schools, and, in no case, ever 
to inflict it upon females. The writer was present when Mr. Bing- 
ham undertook to punish the colored house boy for repeated and pro- 
voking misconduct- The boy, who was about ten years old, under- 
stood his master too well, for, although the flagellation was inflicted 

' The price was aboat Uuttj tboaand doUara ; and the suretiea, Mr. CalhoQii, a Seot^- 
BUi, WilBam Thonton, a lawyer, and Caleb Knfbam. 


with a slender rod, and a reluctant band, on a back well protected, 
the rogue screamed most pitifully. He did not shed one tear, but 
Mr. Bingham shed so many and suflfered so much, that he soon con- 
cluded that, as he could not bear any more, the boy could not, and 
the offender was released upon just such a promise as he had made 
and broken a hundred times before. This kindness of disposition, de- 
void of such weakness, however, for the incident just related took 
place after Mr. Bingham had suffered long from the painful disease 
that shook his system, was especially shown, while he was a director 
of the state prison, by his endeavors to reform the criminals, and to 
procure employment for them after the expiration of their sentences. 
He was particularly interested in the younger prisoners, and procured 
the pardon of several on the promise to watch over and provide for 
them. He loved his immediate family, and was strongly attached to 
his kindred, however remote the degree, and many a mile did he go 
out of his way to visit distant and poor relatives, with whom he gen- 
erally left a substantial blessing. He had no enemies, but, his politics, 
which were well known, though never offensively proclaimed, effect- 
ually prevented him from attaining to any other distinction in Bos- 
ton than that of an honest man. His politics, as has been hinted, 
were those of the Jeffersonian school. He was a Republican when 
the opposing party were called Federalists ; and few men of his party, 
in Massachusetts, were distinguished for wealth, talents or influence. 
His former position as a public teacher does not appear to have affect- 
ed his standing ; but it was evident that after the first, and, perhaps, 
the second race of teachers retired, the Boston teachers sank into a 
subordinate class, and no longer claimed respectability on account of 
their office. There was a falling off in quality, and nothing was done, 
intellectually, to command the respect of the community. A quarter 
of a century after the great reform, the association of teachers wished 
to make a pubUc demonstration, but it was difficult to find a teacher 
who would attempt a public address, and that, finally dehvered, had 
no claims to notice. For the first quarter of the present century we 
do not find the public teachers taking any part in literary meetings, 
or leading in any improvement, and it was not until the establish- 
ment of the English High School, and the marriage of one or two 
of the teachers into wealthy famiUes, that an impulse was given to 
the whole body, which has gone on increasing, although this numer- 
ous and powerful body have not yet assumed the rank and influence 
to which they ought to aspire. The great fault of the Boston sys- 
tem and that of New England, is the control to which teachers are 
subjected. It is well that a committee should watch over the general 


interests of the schools ; but it has always paralyzed them to have 
all the teachers subjected to any common plan, any fixed course of 
instruction. When the committee are satisfied with the moral char- 
acter, intellectual attainments, and aptness for teaching, of any mas- 
ter, the responsibility should be laid upon him ; liberty should be 
given him to teach in his own way, and to alter and improve where he 
thinks proper. This has never been done ; but all have been stretched 
on the same bed, and cut down to the legal size, until the whole pro- 
fession have been dwarfed, and an independent public teacher is a 
prodigy. But to return from this digression. When Mr. Gerry, con- 
trary to the course of politics in Massachusetts, was elected governor, 
Mr. Bingham was appointed a director of the state prison, and so hu- 
manely and prudently did he discharge the duties of his office that 
he was allowed to retain it several years after his party went out of 
power. Mr. Gerry also appointed him a justice of the peace ; but he 
never acted as a magistrate except in the one case of riot which has 
been mentioned. During the war of 1812-15, the president of the 
United States appointed him an assessor of internal taxes for Massa- 
chusetts, but Mr. Bingham declined the appointment. For many 
years he was a candidate of his party, for the senate of the state, but, 
in those days, there was no third party, and he was never elected, 
though better qualified, probably, than any other man of his par- 
ty in Boston, for any office in the gift of the people. The writer 
of these remarks was not of the same party as his master, but, as the 
bookstore was the head quarters of the Kepublicans, he had an op- 
portunity to study the character of the leading men, and he feels a 
pleasure in bearing testimony to the perfect uprightness and disinter- 
ested political integrity of Caleb Bingham. 

As a scholar Mr. Bingham took a respectable rank. When he 
graduated, the Latin valedictory was awarded to him. His class- 
mates declare him to have been the best speaker in college, and, to 
the last, he was an excellent reader. For two years or more he taught 
Moor's school, in which youths were fitted for college exclusively. 
He was thought worthy to conduct Phillips' Academy, and, in Bos- 
ton, he sustained the highest reputation as a teacher. He was a 
good French scholar, when French was not a common attainment. 
His English style was tnore pure than is generally attained by pro- 
found classical scholars, and his conversational powers were acknowl- 
edged, his language being always free from aflfectation, barbarisms, 
grammatical errors, and those inversions and involutions, that so often 
corrupt the style of scholars who attend more to other languages 
than to their own. 



In his Lome, Caleb Bingham was an amiable, contented, cheerful 
man. The disease of which he died, dropsy of the brain, was proba- 
bly induced at school, and troubled him more and more, until he was 
seldom free from headache and vertigo. The autopsy, which was 
conducted by his friend, the late Dr. George C. Shattuck, revealed an un- 
usual degree of congestion, and led the witnesses to wonder that his 
intellect had never been impaired. The only thing that seemed to 
relieve him was travelling, and for many years he made long jour- 
neys about twice a year. In one of these he went from Boston to 
Niagara Falls, with his eldest daughter, in his own chaise. Bad as 
the road was in 1806, he went from Albany to the Falls in seven 
days and a half; and, while there, he measured the Fall by a line 
dropped from Table Rock, and, allowing for the inclination of the 
line and the shrinkage, the measurement did not differ essentially 
from the more scientific results of later times. On his return, he vis- 
ited Red Jacket, who always addressed hira by the French epithet 
ckanoine, which indicates the impression that his personal appearance 
made upon that distinguished chieftain. But his journeys generally 
terminated at the homestead in Salisbury. His native town occupied 
a deep place in his affections. His father's farm was that delightful 
spot between Washining and Washinee Lakes, and after the death 
of his father, it was a great consolation to him to own it. The land 
and the improvements cost him more than he could well afford, and 
the necessity of curtailing the family expenses at home, led to some 
unpleasant complaints akin to reproaches ; the farm having been pur- 
chased contrary to the wish of his family, and carried on without 
much regard to their advice. As an instance of his unsuccessful ag- 
ricultural ef^rts, it may be mentioned that, when the speculation in 
Merino sheep commenced, he purchased six at a hundred dollars each, 
and after keeping them six or seven years, till the flock, pure and 
mixed, was reckoned by many scores, if not by hundreds, the whole 
were sold for about half the original outlay. Gentlemen fjirmers, 
who live remote from their farms, know how to account for this. 
Before his death, his books had become disused, and the copyrights 
of little value, so that they, with his stock in trade, farm, and other 
property, did not produce ten thousand dollars. 

Mr. Bingham left a widow and two daughters. The widow sur- 
vived him but three or four years. Sophia, the eldest daughter, was 
the highly educated and accomplished wife of General Nathan Tow- 
son, paymaster general of the United States army. She resided at 
Washington, D. C, and bore no subordinate part in elevating and re- 
fining the society of the capitol. She and her husband have both 


died witliin a few years, leaving an only daughter, who married Lieut. 
Caldwell, late of the United States Army, and grandson of her 
mother's only sister. The second daughter of Mr. Bingham is still 
living and unmarried. 

Notwithstanding his unremitted suffering, Mr. Bingham was a 
cheerful man, ready to smile and to enjoy the innocent pleasures 
which nature and society spread around him. His affability made 
him welcome everywhere, and his conversation, perfectly free from 
egotism and pedantry, was always pure, as well as interesting and in- 
structive. The writer was in his family at least seven years, and never 
heard a profane or indelicate expression, or any thing that approached 
it, proceeding from his mouth ; he wishes this example was more 
generally followed by teachers and those who claim to be gentlemen. 
That the tone of Mr. Bingham's mind was cheerful, appears evident 
from his compilations, which are lively, compared with many othei-s 
even of the present day. The introduction of familiar dialogues, 
mostly original, was peculiar to him. For these he was chiefly in- 
debted, as has been said, to David Everett, a Dartmouth graduate, 
who resided in Boston, and edited the Boston Patriot, in which en- 
terprise Mr. Bingham acted as agent for \yilliam Gray, Jonathan 
Harris, Thomas Melville, Aaron Hill, Samuel Brown, James Prince, 
Gen. H. Dearborn, and Gen. Wm. King, who, with the exception of 
Benjamin and Jonathan Austin, were long the only Republican lead- 
ers in Boston. The two Austins were attached to the Chi-onicle, 
which it was the intention of the Patriot to rival, if not supei-sede. 
Both papers were afterwards ing*ulphed in the Daily Advertiser, once 
their most inveterate .political opponent. Mr. Bingham wrote little or 
nothing for his reading books, and this probably through modesty, 
rather than any lack of ability. The moral character of Mr. Bing- 
ham's school books, and the decided stand they took in opposition to 
slavery, even at that early day, speak loudly and well for his princi- 
ples as a Christian and a sincere republican. His remarks were often 
playful and witty, never severe or uncharitable. A sort of quiet 
humor, tempered by the spirit of kindness, often appeared in his con- 
duct and conversation and compelled his hearers to smile. The wri- 
ter may be pardoned, if, to illustrate this peculiarity of his venerated 
master, he relates a circumstance that happened in his presence, not 
many years before the decease of Mr. Bingham. Something had cor- 
rupted the water of the well attached to the house, and the inmates 
agreed, one and all, to pump it dry, each pumping a large tubful in 
turn. Mr. Bingham being the eldest, began just at nightfall, when 
nothing was distinctly visible in the pump-room. He was so long in 


filling the tub, that his wife began to joke at his expense, saying, 
among other things, that she could fill it in half the time. When it 
was full, and her turn came, Mr. Bingham turned out the water, and, 
unperceived bj her, trod out the bottom of the tub. The sink was so 
far below the level of the floor that the bottom of the tub could not 
easily be felt, and Mrs. Bingham, conscious of all she had said, began 
to pump with alarming vigor. When, somewhat fatigued, she stooped 
and felt to ascertain how high the water had risen in the tub, but not 
feeling it, and unwilling to appear to flag, she went at it again with 
desperate earnestness, stooping ever and anon to seek encouragement 
in the rising of the innocent fluid. She pumped long, but exhausted 
her strength before the water failed. She bore the joke very well, but 
not so well as her husband and the rest of us did. 

For two or three years previous to his death, Mr. Bingham paid 
less and less attention to business. The pain in his head was always 
present and often very intense, and it was a painful circumstance to 
us all, that, as he drew near to the shadowy vale, he could find no 
comforting staff in the faith in which he had always walked. His 
constant fear was that he should be a castaway, and a deep feeling of 
personal demerit seemed to add untold weight to his physical debility. 
The encouragement of his friends only seemed to add to his distress, 
and when the writer of this sketch remarked to him that " if he had 
no hope in death there was no hope for any one," he reproved the 
speaker for supposing that he had any claims to merit, and began 
plaintively to sing his favorite hymn : 

" God of my life, look gently down, 
Behold the pains I feel ; 
But I am dumb before thy throne, 
Nor dare dispute thy will." 

Happily for all concerned, the darkness began to disperse a day or 
two before he died ; and when death came, he was no longer to him 
the King of Terrors. He died in peace as he had always tried to live, 
and the last duties were performed by the writer and Hiram Bing- 
ham, then a student at Andover, and prondentially on a visit to the 
fomily. This event took place on the Lord's day morning, April 6th, 
1817, and the body was afterwards deposited in the family tomb of 
his wife, on Copp's Hill, at the north part of Boston. 


Professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy in Yale College. 

More than forty years have now elapsed since the Rev. Timothy 
Dwight, D. D., President of Yale College, closed his earthly labors ; 
but there still survive numbers of his former pupils, who are never 
weary of quoting his authority to the youth of the present genera- 
tion, or of expressing their unbounded admiration of his character as 
a Teacher. Numerous memoirs of President Dwight have been pub- 
lished, and high encomiums have been passed upon him as an in- 
structor and governor of youth. In the present article, my views are 
more limited. I do not propose to write his biography, but to analyze,^ 
more fully than has hitherto been done, his character as a teacher ; 
to inquire what were the elements that were combined in him to form 
so exalted a model; and to explain his method of. teaching, or mode 
of conducting, practically, the education of youth. 

It was my good fortune to come under the instruction of President 
Dwight when he was at his culminating point. The class of 1813, 
to which I belonged, was the last, or last but one, which he taught 
before his health began to decline ; and he died in January, 1817, after 
great sufferings, protracted through the two preceding years. But 
during the senior year of the class of 1813, nothing could exceed the 
vigor of mind and body which he exhibited, and his energies were 
put forth with unequalled power and zeal in our instruction. He was 
then a little turned of sixty, but entered into every duty with untiring 
industry, and unabated vigor. It was a mystery to us how he could 
feel so deep an interest in going over ground, from day to day, which 
we well knew must have been reiterated successively for many pre- 
vious years. I think, however, we shall be able to clear up this mys- 
tery, as we analyze more fully the peculiar characteristics of his 
mind and heart. In the autumn of 1815, I entered upon the office 
of Tutor, and for a year and a half observed him in the government, 
as I had before known him chiefly in the instruction, of the college. 
From these favored opportunities of being personally acquainted with 
the President, and from having been near him during his last sickness, 


and at the time of bis death, I hope I may, without impropriety, 
speak often from my own recollections. This,- I suppose, will be 
thought more allowable, since the number of his pupils who still sur- 
vive are dwindled to a small remnant, and will soon have passed 

It is, we have said, the main object of this article to portray the 
character of President Dwight as a teacher; but since every quality 
of his mind and heart helped to form that character, it is essential to 
the full development of our subject, to review, briefly, his peculiar in- 
tellectual and moral constitution, which we shall endeavor to show to 
have been singularly adapted to form the great teacher. We shall 
also pass in review his course of life, previous to his entering on the 
presidency of Yale College, and show how every thing contributed to 
qualify him for that exalted station. 

It can not be doubted that Dr. Dwight possessed by nature one of 
the highest order of minds ; a mind in which the faculties were all 
great, and all in harmonious proportion. It afforded one of the 
finest examples I have known of the "well-balanced mind." Genius 
is often characterized by the great predominance of some individual 
faculty, as an extraordinary memory, or a remarkable mechanical 
talent, while the other mental powers are quite ordinary, and even 
sometimes deficient. One has a vivid imagination, but has little 
taste or talent for scientific truth. He may be a poet, but can hardly 
be a philosopher. Another has a mighty intellect, but is destitute of 
a sense of the sublime and beautiful, in nature and art. He may be 
a mathematician, but can hardly be a poet or an artist. It is the 
union of intellect and imagination, both strong and in due proportion, 
that constitutes the well-balanced mind. In an instructor of youth, 
no quality is more valuable than this ; and if we analyze carefully the 
mental and moral constitution of President Dwight, we shall find 
unequivocal marks of the happiest union of all these noble elements. 

First, let us view him as a man of intellect. From infancy he 
evinced great aptness to learn. Under the guidance of a mother who 
was among the most distinguished of her sex for strength and culti- 
vation, (daughter of the great President Edwards,) the nursery itself 
was his earliest school-room. She began to instruct him almost as 
soon as he was able to speak ; and such was his eagerness, as well as 
his capacity for improvement, that he learned the alphabet at a single 
lesson, and before he was four years old was able to read the Bible 
with ease and correctness. A great proportion of the instruction 
which he received before he was six years old, was at home with his 
mother. Twice every day she heard him repeat his lesson. When 


this was recited, he was permitted to read such books as he chose, un- 
til the limited period was expired. During these intervals lie often 
read over the historical parts of the Bible, and gave an account of 
them to his mother. So deep and distinct were the impressions which 
these narrations then made upon his mind, that their minutest incidents 
were indelibly fixed upon his memory.* At the age of six, he was 
sent to the grammar school, where he early began to importune his 
father to permit him to study Latin. This was denied, from an im- 
pression that he was too young to profit by studies of that descrip- 
tion ; and the master was charged not to suffer him to engage in 
them. It was soon found to be in vain to prohibit him ; his zeal 
was too great to be controlled. Not owning the necessary books, he 
availed himself of the opportunity, when the elder boys were at play, 
to borrow theirs ; and, in this way, without the father's knowledge or 
the master's consent, he studied through the Latin grammar twice. 
When the master discovered the progress he hz ^ vciade, he applied 
earnestly to his father, and finally obtained a reIucl^ consent that he 
might proceed, though every effort short of compulsion was used to 
discourage him. lie pursued the study of the languages with great 
alacrity, and would have been prepared for admission into college at 
eight years of age, had not a discontinuance of the school interrupted 
his progress, and rendered it necessary for him to be taken home, and 
placed again under the instruction of his raother.f Throughout the 
subsequent course of his academic education, and in all his future 
life, he evinced the same extraordinary aptness to learn. 

Power of application was another trait which indicated that his 
was one of the higher order of minds. The President himself thought 
so highly of this feature as characteristic of a superior mind, that it 
was a favorite saying of his that " genius is nothing but the power 
of application." In his own case, this power was exhibited in its 
highest intensity, first in the school boy, then in the college student, 
and afterward in the professional man. When engaged in the com- 
position of sermons, or any other literary performance, not only did 
the conversation of those around him not interrupt his course of think- 
ing, but, while waiting for his amanuensis to finish the sentence which 
he had last dictated, he would spend the interval in conversing with 
his family or his friends, without the least embarrassment, delay, or 
confusion of thought. Ilis mind took such firm hold of the subject 
which principally occupied it, that no ordinary force could separate it 
from its grasp. He was always conscious of the exact progress he 
had made in every subject. When company or any other occurrence 

* iMemoir prefixed tft Dwight's ''Thtohgy " 1 Memoir. 


coi'nj3ellod him to break off suddenly, it would sometimes happen 
that he did not return to his employment until after the expiration of 
several days. On resuming his labors, all he required of his amanu- 
ensis was to read the last word or clause that had been written, and 
he instantly would proceed to dictate, as if no interruption had oc- 
curred. In several instances 4ie was compelled to dictate a letter at 
the same time that he was dictating a sermon. In one instance, a 
pressing necessity obliged him to dictate three letters at the same 
time. Each of the amanuenses was fully occupied, and the letters 
required no correction.* 

The power of retaining what he had once learned, President Dwight 
possessed in an equally remarkable degree. The art of methodizing, 
as he asserted, lay at the foundation of this power ; and no man, it is 
believed, ever availed himself more fully of the advantages of this art. 
His own acquisitions were laid up in separate compartments of the 
mind, like the wares of a merchant on his shelves, and he could, with 
equal readiness, lay his hand on his mental stores, and bring them 
out at a moment's warning. It was his practice, after short intervals, 
perhaps every evening, to distribute his new acquisitions in a manner 
like that of a compositor in restoring his types to their appropriate 
cells. It was an evidence of the vigor with which his own thoughts 
were conceived that, when once digested into the form of a discourse 
or an essay, and methodically arranged, he never forgot them. A 
sermon composed, but not written, and laid up in his mind, was ready 
to be summoned into use at any future time, and could be recalled, 
after a long interval, w^ith hardly the loss of an idea that entered into 
its original structure. For a great portion of his life, from his youth 
upward, he was unable to use his eyes for reading or writing. To a 
mind less given to meditation, or less eager for knowledge, this loss 
might have been fatal to aspirations after high intellectual attain- 
ments ; but to him, perhaps, it was hardly a misfortune, urging him, as 
it did, to cultivate to their highest degrees of perfection the powers of 
reflection and the art of methodizing. But while we may justly as- 
cribe to these aids much influence, yet it can hardly be doubted that 
he possessed by nature unusual strength and tenacity of memory, as 
was evinced in childhood by his learning the alphabet at a single 
lesson, and in youth by the rapidity with which he acquired knowl- 
edge, and throughout his life by the unfailing certainty with which 
he retained what he had once learned. 

Intense love of knowledge^ another characteristic of great minds, 
was also exhibited by President Dwight in its highest degree. The 



ardor with which he sought for it, in every useful form, might be 
compared to that of the miser for gold, so far as it was the original 
bent of his mind ; but in regard to the high uses he always had in 
view, as a minister of the gospel, and as a teacher, it more resembled 
the effort of the philanthropist to acquire wealth, in order that he 
may relieve want, and save the souls df men. This universal thirst 
for knowledge led him to imbibe it from every source. Hence the 
variety and extent of his knowledge on every point that became the 
subject of discussion, or the topic of conversation, amazed every body. 
One who had attended on his instructions during the senior year, and 
had often admired his inexhaustible stores of information on the 
highest subjects of education, finding him equally at home in theology 
and ethics, in natural philosophy and geography, in history and sta- 
tistics, in poetry and philology, would have his admiration heightened, 
if he chanced to visit him, as it was my good fortune to do, in his 
garden, and heard him discourse on gardening and the cultivation of 
fruit trees. This unbounded love of knowledge, in every form, at- 
tended as it was by a due estimate of the relative value of each kind, 
fulfilled one of the highest requisites for the President of a college, 
both as it fitted him to appreciate the importance of all the separate 
departments of instruction, respectively, and as it prepared him to 
impart to those under his immediate instruction a boundless variety 
of useful information. 

The reasoning powers of President Dwight were such as became a 
mind of the highest order. His sermons and other published works 
afford evidence of this ; but his pupils received a still stronger im- 
pression of his powers of argument in the recitation room, particu- 
larly in his decisions of questions debated before him, where a course 
of reasoning was conducted with every advantage which could be de- 
rived from an array of all the most important facts that bore upon the 
case, from great felicity of illustration, from the most lucid arrange- 
ment, and from the severest logic. 

Such were the leading characteristics of President Dwight as a man 
of intellect, each of which, it will readily be perceived, had a most im- 
portant bearing on the character which it is our main purpose to de- 
lineate, namely, that of the great teacher. Next, let us view him as 
a man of imaginatiox. It is well known that in early life Dr. Dwight 
figured as a poet Indeed, his '•'• Conquest of Canaan,'^ a sacred epic 
poem, in eleven books, written before he was twenty years of age, 
evinced a strong native bent for works of imagination. A disserta- 
tion, delivered at the public commencement of Yale College, on taking 
his master's degree, on the ^^History^ Eloquence, and Poetry of the 


Bihle^'' was received with extraordinary favor. A copy was immedi- 
ately requested for the press, and it was afterward republished, both 
in this country and in Europe. His patriotic songs, composed during 
the revolutionary war, some of which were great favorites with the 
army; his ^^Greenjicld Hill,'" published during his residence at that 
place ; and his hymns, which are still sung with delight in our sacred 
choii-s, afford the most satisfactory evidence that he was a man of 
lofty imagination as well as of profound intellect. 

About the year 1770, commenced a great era in the history of the 
study of polite literature in Yale College, — an era initiated by four 
remarkable geniuses, Trumbull, Dwight, Humphreys, and Barlow. 
Trumbull was of the class of 1767, Dwight of the class of '69, Hum- 
phreys of the class of '71, and Barlow of the class of '78. Trum- 
bull and Dwight were colleague tutors, and a congeniality of taste 
for classical studies and the muses produced a strong intimacy be- 
tween them. Humphreys and Barlow, though a little later, fell into 
the same circle, and cultivated with the others the belles lettres studies. 
TrumbulFs ^^M'Fingal'" justly acquired for him a celebrity above that 
of the others ; but they each and all contributed to create and diffuse 
a taste for elegant literature among their countrymen, and especially 
in Tale College. Previous to that period, after the college had been 
in operation full seventy years, no attention was paid to English litera- 
ture. The course of studies consisted of the dead languages, mathe- 
matics, syllogistic logic, and scholastic theology. The style of com- 
position, even of the officers of the college, was stiff and pedantic, 
and savored of the quaintness of the old theologians. The college 
had never produced a single poet, or an elegant writer.* The study 
of rhetoric had till then been almost entirely neglected. Through 
the influence of three contemporary tutors, Howe, Trumbull, and 
Dwight, a taste for those pursuits was excited, and the art of speak- 
ing began, for the first time in the history of the college, to be culti- 
vated. Dwight, especially, both by his example and his instructions, 
produced a great reform in the style of writing and speaking. He 
delivered to the students a series of lectures on style and composition, 
on a plan very similar to that contained in Blair's lectures, which 
were not published until a considerable time afterward. 

Of the constellation of poets which arose simultaneously at this 
period, Trumbull, no doubt, was the principal star. But several cir- 
cumstances contributed, at the time of the publication of Dwight's 
"Cow^'wesi o/" (7ana(m," to render it less popular than it deserved to 
be. The country contained but few persons of cultivated imagina- 

* Governor Livingston, of Nev^' Jersey, of the class of 1741, ought, perhaps, to be excepted. 


tion, and few lovers of sacred poetry especially. Tliere was, in fact, 
among our leading men, in civil life particularly, a strong bias toward 
infidelity. Moreover, on literary as on other subjects, the United 
States had not, until a much later period, begun to exercise for her- 
self an independent judgment, but took her lead from the decisions 
of the British press ; and it was long the practice of British critics to 
treat every literary effort of Americans with contempt. Hence a 
strong prejudice was imbibed against the poetical merit of the "C'on- 
gucist of Canaan^'' on its first publication ; and this sentiment became 
hereditary, and has descended to the present day. Even now every 
body condemns, wJiile nobody reads, the ""Conquest of Canaan^ 
Having myself attentively read it more than once, I feel authorized to 
claim that, whatever blemishes it may have in some nice points of 
taste, it affords abundant evidence of a vivid imagination, gi-eat facility 
in versifying, and a high power of appreciating the sublime in senti- 
ment, and the beautiful in nature and art. Were it my purpose to 
criticise this neglected poem, I should insist upon the poetical merit 
of many individual passages; but all I propose at present, is to view 
President Dwioht as a man of imaijination, in contradistinction to the 
man of mere intellect. Of this element in his character, as forming 
a part of a well-balanced mind, and one of the highest order of minds, 
I feel safe in claiming his poetry as affording abundant evidence. 
Were further proof necessary, I might adduce his fondness for natural 
scenery, and his delight in ornamental gardening. A warm imagina- 
tion is obvious enough in his prose writings, and is even recognized 
in his sermons, especially where the subject admits of figurative lan- 
guage and flights of fancy. It is not, however, inconsistent with our 
views of what constitutes the well-balanced mind, to admit that, in 
the mental constitution of President Dwight, the intellect greatly pre- 
ponderated over the imagination. 

But it will be proper, secondly, to estimate the moral no less than the 
mental constitution of President Dwight, in its bearing upon the charac- 
ter of the great teacher. It was not until he had reached the age of 
twenty-two years, while he was Tutor in college, that he made a public 
profession of religion; but the basis of his moral character was laid 
in early childhood, by the influence and counsels of his gifted mother. 
*'She taught him," says his biographer, "from the very dawn of his 
reason, to fear God, and keep his commandments ; to be conscien- 
tiously just, kind, affectionate, charitable, and forgiving ; to preserve, 
on all occasions, the most sacred regard to truth ; and to relieve the 
distresses and supply the wants of the poor and unfortunate. She 
aimed, at a very early period, to enlighten his conscience, to make 



him afraid to sin, and to teach him to hope for pardon only tliroiigU 
the righteousness of Christ. The impressions thus made upon his 
mind in infancy were never effaced." He seemed to possess an innate 
love of truth, which exhibited itself to his pupils in what sotnetimeji 
appeared to them an almost over nicety in regard to all the minute 
and exact circumstances attending the facts on which his statements 
were made, and in his particularity in mentioning his authorities wheu 
the facts were derived from the statements of others. *'Tell truth to 
a hair's breadth," was a precept which he ever enjoined on his pupils. 

President Dwight was also a man of warm attachments and most 
tender sympathies. Nothing could exceed the strength of his do- 
mestic affections. But his heart was too large to confine its exercises 
to the family circle. The same kind affection glowed, in proportion- 
ate measure, toward his pupils, and toward numerous private friends 
whom he had bound to himself in every stage of life. When they 
were afflicted, he was moved to tears ; when they were prosperous, ho 
shared in their joy. I remember an instance of his tenderness on the 
occasion of the death of-one of the Tutors, Mr. Mills Day. The Vve^'i- 
dent was absent at an ecclesiastical meeting, returning a few hours 
after his death. As he came into the chapel to attend evening prayers, 
and passed by the seat where Mr. Day usually sat, his countenance 
changed, and his tears began to flow. In reading the Bible before 
prayers, his voice was tremulous ; and when he came, in the course oC 
his prayer, to allude to the mournful event, he was so overcome that 
his voice nearly failed him, and his cheeks were wet with tears. In 
a funeral prayer at the house of a friend, who had lost a son of much 
promise, he was equally overcome. Indeed, it was not uncommon 
for him to betray deep emotion in the recitation room, when relating 
an instance of suffering or sorrow. Above all this native tenderness, 
ruled the most expansive benevolence, — the benevolence of the gos- 
pel, — embracing within its boundless sphere every thing suscei)tible 
of happiness or misery, and ever yearning for the promotion among 
men of freedom, knowledge, happiness, and pure religion. 

Such was the intellectual, and such the moral constitution which 
lay at the foundation of that character, which the whole education or 
course of life of President Dwight helped to mould into the great 
teacher. Let us therefore, thirdly, pass in review his peculiar mode 
of life, or education, so far as it contributed to form and perfect that 

The manner in which he himself was tauglit, from infancy, by a 
mother so singularly qualified to direct the early education of a child 
of genius, was ever present to his mind as a model. He was almost 


born a teaclier, for I once heard his sister relate tliat, Avlien only four 
years old, lie was found in a retired place teaching a company of lit- 
tle boys lessons from the Bible. His father was an educated man, 
but the cares of business called him so much from liome that the care 
and instruction of the children devolved chiefly on the mother. Ilis 
house, however, was the resort of much company of the most elevated 
class, and their conversation inspired our young scholar with the love 
of general knowledge, and every fragment of valuable information was 
treasured up and never lost. These opportunities helped to form his 
taste for those topics which enter into intelligent conversation, such 
as public affiiirs, and the reigning matters of discussion of the day. 
Here, perhaps, he first caught the inspiration wliich in after yeare 
animated his own love of intelligent conversation, which he ever named 
among his highest sources of enjoyment. It was all the recreation 
he needed from severe study ; and of all his powers those of conver- 
sation were among the most extraordinary. He entered college at 
thirteen, having made acquisitions considerably in advance of those re- 
quired at that time for admission. For the fifst two years of his col- 
lege life, the institution was in an unsettled state, with its study and 
discipline much impaired, and he always regarded this period of his 
education as almost lost, having contracted a fondness for games and 
other idle amusements ; but, through the influence of a wise and zeal- 
■ous tutor, he was roused to nobler aspirations. At the beginning of 
his junior year, being fifteen years old, he engaged in his studies with 
excessive application, extending them into regions far beyond the 
college curriculum. At the close of his academic course, the Presi- 
dent sent for Dwight and Strong,* and informed them that in view 
of the officers of the college they were at the head of the class, and 
equally deserving of the highest honor; but, as Strong was the elder 
of the two, it would be given to him at that time, and to Dwight on 
taking his master's degree. 

He had no sooner completed his college course than he entered at 
once on the life of a teacher, at the early age of seventeen, a profes- 
sion which he pursued with but little interruption for fifty years. His 
first essay was at a grammar school, at New Haven, which he kept for 
two years with great success, securing the strongest attachment of the 
pupils, and the highest approbation of their parents. During these 
two years he made great advancement in literature and science, 
dividing every day according to an exact method, of which six hours 
were spent in school, and eight hours in the severest application to 
study, leaving only ten hours for all other purposes. His studies 

*The late llev. Nathan Strong, D. D., of Hartford. 



embraced a wide range of subjects, scientific as well as literary, com- 
prehending several branches then scarcely known in this country, 
among which were the Calculus and Newton's Principia. But his 
talents, as an instructor, met with a more appropriate field in the situa- 
tion of Tutor in Yale College, to which place he was elected in Sep- 
tember, 1771, being then past nineteen years of age. The period of 
his tutorship continued for six years, and he ever afterward referred 
to it as a most important epoch of his life. Here his great powers 
of teaching were fully developed. " When he entered upon the office, 
more than half the members of his class were older than himself; 
and the freshman who waited on him was thirty-two years of age. 
Notwithstanding a circumstance generally so disadvantageous, he pro- 
ceeded in the discharge of his official duties with firnmess and assi- 
duity ; and in a short time gained a reputation for skill in the govern- 
ment and instruction of his class, rarely known in the former expe- 
rience of the college."* We have already adverted to the agency 
which he and his associate instructors, especially Howe and Trumbull, 
exerted in inspiring a new taste for the studies of eloquence and polite 
literature. The *''' Conquest of Canaan'''' was one of the fruits of this 
period, having been commenced in 1771, when he was only nineteen 
years of age, and finished in 1774, at the age of twenty-two. 

The first class which he instructed graduated in 1775 ; the year be- 
fore the Declaration of Independence. "At that time he delivered a 
valedictory address, every where sparkling indeed with brilliant im- 
agery, but every where, also, fraught with strong thoughts and noble 
conceptions. In two points of view it deserves notice. It unfolds to 
his pupils the duty of fixing on a very high standard of character, as 
intelligent and as moral beings, in a manner which proves at once 
that this was literally the rule which governed his own conduct, and 
that he was admirably qualified to inlluence others to adopt it. It 
also communicates to them views of the growth and ultimate import- 
ance of this country, which were at once new, noble, and prophetic. 

"In March, 1777, he was married to Miss Mary Woolsey, the 
daughter of Benjamin Woolsey, Esq., of Long Island, the class-mate, 
room-mate, and intimate friend of his father. They had eight sons, 
of whom six survived their father.f 

"In May, 1777, the college was broken up. The students left New 
Haven at the commencement of the vacation, and pursued their 
studies, during the summer, under their respective Tutors, in places 


tTwo only still survive: James Dwight, Esq., of New Haven, and Rev. William T. Dwight. 
D. D., of Portland, Me. 


less exposed to the sudden incursions of the enemy. Mr. Dwiglit re- 
tired with his class to Weathersfield, and remained with them till 
September. Early in June, he was licensed as a preacher, and, be- 
sides instructing his class, he supplied the pulpit of the neighboring 
village of Kensington. It being understood that the existing head of 
the college would relinquish his connection with it, the students, as a 
body, drew up and signed a petition to the Corporation, that Mr. 
Dwight might be elected to the Presidency. This evinced an extra- 
ordinary respect for his character as a teacher, being then only twenty- 
five years of age. It was owing to his own interference that the ap- 
plication was not formally made." * 

The country was now in the midst of the revolutionary war. 
Eager to have some part in the public service, Mr. Dwight accepted 
the appointment of chaplain to General Parsons' brigade, which was 
part of General Putnam's division in the army of the United States. 
He sedulously devoted himself to his appropriate duties. The troops 
who composed the brigade were mostly Connecticut farmers ; men 
■who had been religiously educated, and who were willing to listen to 
the truths of the gospel even in a camp. On the Sabbath they heard 
him with profound attention. During the week they beheld him ex- 
erting himself, as far as lay in his power, to instruct them in morals 
and religion. Several of his discourses delivered to the whole army, 
owing partly to their intrinsic merit, and partly to the feelings of the 
times, gained him high reputation with the American public. He 
also wrote several patriotic songs, which were universally popular. 
His connection with the army enabled him to form an acquaintance 
with many officers of distinction, and among them he had the satis- 
foction to rank the Commander-in-Chief. That great man honored 
him with flattering attentions. Mr. Dwight ever remembered his 
kindness with lively gratitude, and entertained for his character and 
services, military and civil, the highest respect and veneration.f His 
experience in this situation was by no means fruitless in reference to 
his subsequent life as a teacher. The examples of dignified manners 
with which he had been conversant among the officers of the army, 
especially in the person of Washington, contributed, no doubt, to the 
formation of his own mannei*s and address, so much more courtly 
than usually belong to academic men or recluse scholars, and the 
wisdom and prudence which were so fully set before him in the coun- 
cils of the Father of his Country, had their influence upon his own 
administration as President of Yale College. His pupils can not fail 
to remember how often he drew his illustrations and arguments from 

* Memoir. tlb. 


the observations he had made, and the experience he had gained, 
■while serving as chaplain in the army. 

The occasion of his leaving the army was one that subjected him 
to new and unexpected trials. His father was removed by death, 
while on a business tour in a distant part of the country, leaving a 
widow and thirteen children, of whom he was the eldest. On him 
devolved the interesting but self-denying duty of devoting himself to 
the aid of his mother, in supporting and educating his younger 
brothers and sisters, of whom he was constituted the guardian. On 
receiving intelligence of his father's death, he immediately removed 
to Northampton, where the family resided, and entered on the duties 
providentially assigned to him, with the greatest promptitude and 
cheerfulness. " In this situation (says his biographer,) he passed five 
yeai-s of the most interesting period of his life ; performing in an ex- 
emplary manner the offices of a son and a brother, and of a guardian 
to the younger children. Here he was emphatically the stafi' and 
stay of the family. The government and education of the children, 
as well as the daily provision for their wants, depended almost exclu- 
sively on his exertions. The elder as well as the younger were com- 
mitted to his care, and loved and obeyed him as a father. The filial 
afiection and dutiful respect and obedience which he exhibited toward 
his mother, and the more than fraternal kindness with which he 
watched over the well-being of his brothers and sisters, deserve the 
most honorable remembrance. To accomplish the object, he post- 
poned his own establishment for life, and a provision for his ftimily. 
To accomplish it, though destitute of property, he relinquished in 
their favor his own proportion of the family estate, and labored con- 
stantly for five years, with a diligence and alacrity rarely exemplified. 
His mother ever acknowledged, in language of eloquent affection and 
gratitude, his kindness, faithfulness, and honorable generosity to her 
and to her children. The respect which she felt and manifested to- 
ward him, though perhaps not inferior in native powers of mind, re- 
sembled the affection of a dutiful child toward her father, rather than 
the feelings of a mother for her son. During this period he labored 
through the week upon the farm, and preached on the Sabbath to 
different vacant congregations in the neighboring towns. He also es- 
tablished a school at Northampton, for the instruction of youth 
of both sexes, which was almost immediately resorted to by such a 
number of pupils, that he was under the necessity of employing two 
assistants. At the same time, owing to the dispersed condition of the 
college at New Haven, during the war, and to his established charac- 
ter as an instructor, a part of one of the classes repaired to North- 


ampton, and placed themselves under his instruction. To tbem he 
devoted his own immediate attention, until they had completed their 
regular course of collegiate studies." * 

The load of domestic care he had sustained during this period, 
unusual for one so young, was not without its use in qualifying him 
for the post he was ultimately to occupy. While still within the pre- 
cincts of youth, the care and education of brothers and sisters of dif- 
ferent ages, some nearly as old as himself, was well suited to mature 
his character and ripen it into full manhood. He exhibited at once 
a beautiful example of filial piety and fraternal wisdom. Nor was 
the self-denial imposed on his ambition, and the necessity of relin- 
quishing, or at least of postponing, all his flattering prospects of rising 
in the world, lost upon him as a means of moral discipline. At the 
age of thirty he had reached a dignity of deportment, and a maturity 
of wisdom, usually associated with advanced years and the largest 
experience. These five years spent in earnest efforts to alleviate a 
mother's cares, to form and mould the characters of such numbers 
who looked to him as a father, and the self-denial and laborious ex- 
ertions, both bodily and mental, which he was compelled to exercise 
to provide the means of their support, formed together a miniature 
of those trials and responsibilities which he afterward sustained as 
President of Yale College. 

Let us next attend him into political life, where he was gaining 
new and most important experience for the ofBce of teacher. A 
strong disposition was manifested, from time to time, by the inhabit- 
ants of Northampton, to employ him in civil life. In the county con- 
ventions of Hampshire, he twice represented the town. Twice also 
he consented to serve the town as their representative in the state 
legislature. This was in the years 1781 and 1782, just before the 
close of the war of Independence, when the distresses and moral evils 
occasioned by a state of war imposed on the state governments most 
difficult and responsible duties. Inexperienced as he was in the busi- 
ness of a politician or a legislator, he at once became a leading mem- 
ber of the house, and was greatly distinguished and admired for his 
talents and eloquence. All his exertions were on the side of good 
order and good morals, and indicated a steady attachment to the prin- 
ciples of rational liberty, and decided hostility to licentiousness. A 
favorable opportunity was afforded him to serve the cause of educa- 
tion, which was ever near his heart. A petition for a grant in favor 
of Harvard OoUesfe was before the ledslature. At that time such 
grants were unpopular. During his occasional absence from the 



hoiisG the petition had been called up ; and, after finding but few, 
and tliose not very -warm advocates, had been generally negatived. 
On taking his seat, Mr. Dwight, learning what had occurred, moved 
a reconsideration of the vote. In a speech of about one hour in 
length, fraught with wit, with argument, and with eloquence, and re- 
ceived with marked applause on the spot, from the members and the 
spectators, he effectually changed the feelings of the house, and pro- 
cured a nearly unanimous vote in favor of the grant. So marked 
was his success in this public career, that many citizens of distinction 
urged him to embark on the sea of political life, and a delegation of 
his native county earnestly requested him to become a candidate for 
election to the Continental Congress. He had made some progress in 
the study of law before he made choice of the clerical profession ; 
but, having solemnly dedicated himself to the ministry of the gospel, 
he could not be persuaded, by any prospects of civil promotion, to 
abandon the sacred calling. 

In 1783, at the age of thirty-one years, he was settled over the 
church and congregation of Greenfield, a parish in the town of Fair- 
field, in Connecticut, where he continued the following twelve years. 

It only remains, therefore, to view President Dwight as a theologian 
and a parochial minister of, the gospel, in order to complete our sur- 
vey of the training his course of life had involved for that peculiar 
office for which he was ultimately destined. When we reflect that 
the ministry of the gospel itself i^s only a more exalted kind of teach- 
ing, we can not doubt the preparation it affords for the highest exer- 
cise of that office. The study of the Bible is imbibing truth at its 
fountain, and nothing can be more appropriate to one whose mission 
afterward is to establish, upon the foundations of immutable truth, 
the characters of those who are to lead the councils of their country, 
or to influence the eternal destinies of their fellow-men. It was 
especially important for a teacher whose instructions, like his, lay to a 
great extent in the fields of theology and moral philosophy. Besides 
all this, the experience of the pastor of a people, fraught as it usually 
is with lessons of prudence, discretion, and the fruits of benevolent 
action, affords an excellent preparation for the office of President of a 
college. To President Dwiglit such a preparation was peculiarly ap- 
propriate, since he was called to fulfill the duties of chaplain and pas- 
tor, as well as of instructor and governor of the college. It is not 
the least of the advantages of the situation of the pastor of a people, 
as a preparation for the head of such an institution of learning, that 
it brings him into contact with every class of minds, and all shades 
of character, and thus makes him thoroughly acquainted with human 


nature. Moreover, the life of a parish minister is itself a c )urse of 
moral discipline well fitted to impart that prudence and self-control, 
which are important elements in the character of the instructor and 
governor of youth. But the actual exercise of the gift of teaching 
constituted, in connection with the pastoral office, an important part 
of the labors of Dr. Dwight, during the whole time that he resided 
at Greenfield. His native hospitality, the charms of his conversation, 
and his extensive acquaintance with men in professional and civil life, 
rendered his house a great resort of men of letters, of theologians, 
of eminent civilians, as well as of extensive family connections. Such 
an amount of company of course added greatly to the ordinary ex- 
penses of supporting a family, and both combined went far beyon<l 
the scanty salary of a parish minister. Hence, necessity con- 
spired with his natural fondness for teaching, to induce hira to open 
a school of the higher order, for the instruction of youth of both 
sexes. He erected, therefore, a small school-house on a commanding 
and beautiful site, overlooking the waters of Long Island Sound, for 
a long distance, and the bright villages on its margin, — a situation 
embracing scenery hardly surpassed in beauty by any in New Eng- 
land. This seminary he taught in person, devoting to it regularly 
six hours every day. In a short time, youths in great numbei-s, and 
of both sexes, not only from various parts of New England, but from 
the middle and southern states, as well as from abroad, resorted to 
his school. It was commenced and carried on absolutely without 
funds, and depended solely on his own character and exertions. He 
supported it, during his whole residence at Greenfield, with unexam- 
pled reputation. The entire number of pupils instructed here, within 
the period of twelve years, exceeded one thousand. Many of them 
were carried through the whole course of education customary at 
college. In my youth I was well acquainted with men of high in- 
telligence and distinguished literary attainments, whose sole educa- 
tion had been acquired in the school at Greenfield Hill. This semi- 
nary also afforded, it is believed, the earliest example in our country, 
where females were instructed in the higher branches of academic 
learning. It is justly added by the biographer of President Dwight, 
that probably to the exertions and influence of no one individual are 
the ladies of our country so extensively indebted, — that no man 
thought more highly of the sex, no man loved better the company 
of women of refinement and intelligence, and no man did more to 
exalt the female character. In the class debates of the old question, on 
the relative ability of the sexes, the President always warmly insisted 
on the full equality of the female sex. 


What a picture do the labors of Dr. Dwight, at Greenfield Ilill, 
afford of the productiveness of learned industry ! It was here that 
he digested his great System of Theology, and preached it twice in a 
series of sermons to his people, performing for them at the same 
time, with the greatest faithfulness, all his parochial duties. It was 
here that he composed the beautiful and instructive poem of "Green- 
field Hill," chiefly as a pastime during his walks between his house 
and his school room. Six hours a day, also, were given to the fatigu- 
ing and exhausting labors of teaching different classes of pupils, in 
a great range and variety of studies. He cultivated, with his own 
hands, a large culinary, fruit, and flower garden ; and he devoted a 
great amount of time, with the most unwearied hospitality, to the 
crowds of visitors that continually thronged his house. Prodigious 
as were the labors which we have already enumerated, yet it is but 
a partial list of all that he accomplished during this fruitful period of 
his life. 

From the preceding sketch it is evident that the whole course of 
life of Dr. Dwight, from infiincy to middle life, when he entered the 
Presidency of Yale College, was a continual training for that elevated 
station to which, on the death of President Stiles, he was transferred, 
in 1795. Those noble maternal influences which were shed upon his 
infant mind, like the dew of morning upon the opening flower ; the 
habitual cultivation of all his faculties, of intellect and imagination, 
wdiich formed the well-balanced mind ; a heart fraught with every 
noble and exalted purpose, and deeply imbued with the faith and 
benevolence of the gospel, and the moral discipline he had received, 
as well as the valuable experience he had gained in the onerous duties 
he had discharged in his filial and fraternal relations ; the life of chap- 
lain in the army ; the part he bore in public affairs, as a member of 
the legislature ; the experience of a parish minister ; the actual exer- 
cise of the gifts of teaching through every stage of life ; and, finally, 
his multifarious learning, and boundless stores of knowledge : these 
all conspired to form an amount of preparation for the instruction 
and government of youth, and for superintending the various interests 
of a University, such as has seldom been brought to the same elevated 
station. A brief review of President Dwight's method of teaching 
will bring these remarks to a close. 

Dr. Dwight, on his entering the Presidency, is said to have relaxed 
much from the ancient rigid forms of intercourse between the faculty 
and the students, where dignity was graduated by standard measures. 
In the old college laws it was enacted, among many other similar pro- 
visions for securing the respect of the students toward their officers, 


that no freshman should wear his hat ivithin ten rods of the Presi- 
dent^ eigh t rods of a Professor^ and six rods of a Tutor. Yet liis bear- 
ing was more stately than is common at the present day, and his 
courtesy, in returning the salutations of the students, had more the 
air of condescension than a reciprocation of kind and respectful feel- 
ings. With the senior class, who, in a body, exclusively fell under 
his immediate instruction, he was somewhat less distant, but even one 
of them could hardly feel at ease in his presence. Not that the pre- 
ceptor was haughty, but the pupil was overawed. They met him 
daily in his lecture room, at eleven o'clock. When he entered the 
room, the most respectful silence was observed, and all remained 
standing until he was seated. There was much, both in his person 
and in the associations connected with him, to inspire them with pro- 
found respect. They saw before them, not a pedagogue, or a learned 
recluse, ignorant of the world and of human nature, but a man who 
had attained high celebrity even in his youth ; the first of American 
divines; a compatriot of the heroes of the revolution; one who, by 
universal consent, held the first rank for splendor of talents and extent 
of erudition ; an instructor whose pupils were numbered by thou- 
sands, many of them occupying the highest posts of honor and use- 
fulness in the church and state. He appeared before them, too, in 
all the dignity of unsullied virtue, and armed with the panoply of 
a minister of Christ. His person was also large and commanding, 
his manners refined and courtly, his voice deep and melodious ; — au- 
thority, as one born to command, seemed to invest his entire char- 

The books recited to the President were Blair's Rhetoric, Locke on 
the Human Understanding, and Paley's Moral Philosophy. Every 
Wednesday and Saturday, a division of the class, consisting of eight 
or ten, read disputations on some question previously selected and 
approved by the President, on which, at the close of the discussion^ 
he gave an elaborate decision. On Monday morning, in the place of 
a recitation, he gave a familiar discourse, founded on Vincent's Cate- 
chism, on the doctrines, duties, and evidences of Christianity. But 
the great value of senior year consisted not so much in the lessons 
learned and recited, as in the vast amount of instruction which fell from 
the lips of the instructor. It has with some reason been alledged, 
as a defect in his method of instruction, that the student was not laid 
under sufficient responsibility. Leading questions were asked, which 
only required to be affirmed or denied, and hence it was possible to pass 
both the daily recitations and the public examinations with but little 
study. Senior year was, therefore, just what each individual chose 


to make of it. Those desirous of improving their time well, found 
it a most profitable year. They found their sum of knowledge daily 
increased ; their moral principles formed and strengthened ; from 
boys they became men, and rose to the full consciousness of man- 
hood, and had their principles, literary, political, moral, and religious, 
settled for life. The majority carried in note-books, and recorded as 
many as possible of the President's remarks. Although the class 
met him but once a day, yet the interview was frequently prolonged 
fiom an hour and a half to two hours, and, on dispute days, occa- 
sionally still longer. Copious and able as were the instructions given 
by President Dwiglit, in connection with the text-books, it was in the 
ample and profound discussions of questions, whether philosophical, 
political, literary, or religious, that his great powers and resources as a 
teacher were most fully brought out. In these, according to the nature 
of the subject, appeared, by turns, the divine, the poet, the statesman, 
the patriot, the philanthropist. It was often evident that he came to 
the lecture room to attend these debates without any special prepara- 
tion. Indeed, when, on account of the length of time occupied by 
the disputants, his decision was postponed, to be given at the close of 
the next recitation, he would sometimes require to be reminded of the 
question. But, after a moment's reflection, apparently throwing his 
ideas under numerical heads, he would enter with all his soul into the 
discussion, brinojino^ forward in luminous order the most convincinor 
arguments, embellishing by rhetorical figures, illustrating by pertinent 
anecdotes, enlivening by sallies of humor, and often warming up into 
a more glowing strain of eloquence than he ever exemplified in his 
public discourses. During the reading of the debates of the students, 
he often interspersed remarks suggested by some casual association, 
^vhich led him at a distance from the main point in argument. But 
it was useful information, however discursive he might sometimes ap- 
pear ; and, by this practice, he touched upon so many of the exigen- 
ces of real life, that his pupils have been often heard to say, that 
hardly a day of their subsequent lives has passed without their re- 
calling something said by President Dwight. The earnestness with 
which he engaged in the business of instruction, and in arguing ques- 
tions in which important truths were to be established, never abated. 
It might be the twentieth or the thirtieth class of pupils now before 
him, and he might be reiterating the same ground for the thirtieth 
time, yet his zeal knew no satiety. Nothing could have so fully sus- 
tained his interest in these exercises, but a high appreciation of the 
value of the truths he taught, and a benevolent desire that his pupils 
should share with him so rich a treasure. The intensity of feeling 


with which he enrraored in the defense of the truth, when it was as- 
sailed or endangered, was strikingly evinced on an occasion when I 
was present. During his last sickness, a small class of students in 
theology recited to him once a week, and came to his house for that 
purpose only a week before he died. When they entered the room, 
the President was leaning back in his chair, with his head upon the 
wall, and with many indications of intense suffering.* It was one of 
his bad days, and Mi-s. Dwight went to him and told him that the 
yoimg men had come to recite, but besought him not to attempt to 
hear them. One of them was to read a dissertation on the doctrine 
of the Trinity. The President faintly replied that it would not hurt 
him to have the paper read, although he should probably not be able 
to make any remarks. The student began to read, and soon touched 
upon delicate points in the controversy then waging on this great sub- 
ject. The foce, before so pale and wan, began to brighten up ; he 
leaned forward in his chair, took up several points in the argument, in 
opposition to the views of the writer, and, at length, altogether for- 
getting his bodily pain and weakness, entered fully into the question, 
and discoui-sed for an hour with his accustomed zeal and energy. 

It was a melancholy satisfaction I enjoyed on the day after the de- 
cease of this venerated man, to watch over his lifeless remains. My 
mind was filled to overflowing with recollections of all I had seen and 
heard of the extraordinary personage whose form, majestic even in 
death, now lay before me. Retiring from the solemn chamber, I 
took my pen and wrote as follows : " Where among all the records 
of the many great and good, who have devoted themselves to the 
same dignified employment, can a man be found, who united in his 
own person a more wonderful assemblage of those qualities which 
fit one for forming the characters of youth ? Who has ever united, 
in a higher degree, the dignity that commands respect, the accuracy 
that inspires confidence, the ardor that kindles animation, the kind- 
ness that wins aflfection, and has been able, at the same time, to ex- 
hibit before his pupils the fruits of long and profound research, of an 
extensive and profitable intercourse with the world, and of great ex- 
perience in the business of instruction?"! After the lapse of forty 
years, and after much opportunity with many eminent instructors, 
this estimate seems to me entirely just, and President Dwight is ever 
present to my mind as the Great Model Teacher. 

* His disorder was an internal cancer, and his anguish extreme. 

t Tliis passage formed a part of a Memoir of Dr. Dwight, published in the '^Philadelphia 
Port-Folio" for November, 1S17. 



In continuing our sketches of eminent teachers and educators, we 
shall dwell* in this number of our Journal, on the life, and ser- 
vices of one who was both a practical teacher, and a widely influen- 
tial educator, — at once eminently successful in a new, and difficult 
department of human culture, and in diffusing by pen, voice, anc 
example, sound views as to principles and methods of instruction, 
and discipline applicable to schools of different grades and character. 
But he was not only a successful teacher, and a wise educator, but the 
founder of an institution by which thousands have already been res- 
cued from the doom of ignorance, and isolation from their kind ; 
and tens of thousands more will yet be introduced to the boundless 
store of human and divine knowledge, to the delights of social inter- 
course, to a participation in the privileges of American citizenship, 
to a practical skill in the useful and liberal arts, and to the ability 
generally of adding each something to the stock of human happiness, 
and subtracting something from the sum of human misery. For 
his widely beneficent life and sublime Christian virtues, the world 
has added one other name to its small roll of truly good men, who 
have founded institutions of beneficence, and lifted from a portion of 
our race the burden of a terrible calamity ; — 

One other name with power endowed, 

To cheer and guide men onward as they pass, — 
One other image on the heart bestowed, 
To dwell there beautiful in holiness. 

To Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet we may apply his own beautiful 
paraphrase of Collins' Dirge, " How sleep the brave /" <&:c. 

How sleep the good ! who sink to rest, 
With their Redeemer's favor blest : 
When dawns the day, by seers of old, 
In sacred prophecy foretold, 
They then shall burst their humble sod, 
And rise to meet their Saviour— God. 

To seats of bliss by angel-tongue, 
With rapture is their welcome sung, 
And, at their tomb, when evening gray 
Hallows the hour of closing day, 
Shall Faith and Hope awhile repair, 
To dwell with weeping Friendship ther« 


♦The following sketch is abridged from a. " Tribute to Gallaudet. A Discourse on the 
Life, Character, and Services of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, L L. D., delivered before the 
Citizens of Hartford, 7lh January 1852, with an Appendix, containing History of Deaf-mute 
Instruction and Institutions. By Henry Barnard, p. 267." 


Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet was born in the city of Philadelphia, 
on the tenth of December, 1787. His father, Peter W. Gallaudet, 
was descended from that branch of a Huguenot family, which fled from 
France on the revocation of the Edict of Nantz, and settled afterwards 
near New Rochelle, in New York, on the borders of Connecticut. His 
mother, Jane Hopkins, was the daughter of Captain Thomas Hopkins, 
— a descendant of one of the first settlers of Hartford, whose name is 
recorded on the historical monument in the old burial-ground in the 
rear of the Centre Church. The family removed to Hartford in 1800, 
where the son continued ever after to reside. 

Mr. Gallaudet completed his preparation at the Hartford Gram- 
mar School for the sophomore class of Yale College, which he entered 
in the autumn of 1802, in the fifteenth year of his age, — an age, as 
he often remarked, too young, to enable a student to reap the full 
advantage of a collegiate course of study and discipline. Although 
quite young, — the youngest member of his class, and by temperament 
and habit inclined to be cheerful and even mirthful, — he was ever studi- 
ous, achieving a reputation for sound scholarship, second to no other 
in his class distinguished for the talent and attainments of its mem- 
bers, strictly observant of the laws of the institution, and gradu- 
ated before he was eighteen years old. During his connection with 
college, he was remarkable for the accuracy of his recitations in every 
department of study, and was particularly eminent in mathematics, 
and for proficiency in English composition. To his early attention to 
toathematics we may attribute much of that discipline which enabled 
him to summon his mental vigor and resources at will, and to his 
early and constant practice of English composition, that facility and 
felicity of expression which characterized his conversation and more 
elaborate discourses. 

Soon after leaving college he entered upon the study of law, in the 
ofiice of Hon. Chauncey Goodrich. Here, as in everything he under- 
took, he was punctual and methodical, his recitations were remark- 
able for their accuracy, and he gave every assurance of his becoming 
in time a thorough and successful lawyer. The state of his health, 
which was never robust, compelled him, at the close of the first year, 
to suspend his legal studies, which he never resumed. The interval, 
before he entered on his duties as tutor in Yale College, in 1808, was 
devoted to an extensive course of reading in English literature, and 
the practice of English composition. His experience as tutor enabled 
him to review and extend his collegiate studies, and introduced him to 
the subject of education as a science, and to its practical duties as an 
art. No one could appreciate more highly than he did the value of 
even a brief experience in teaching, as a school of mental and moral 


discipline, and as the most direct wslj to test the accuracy of attain- 
ments already made. 

About this time, his health requiring a more active life, he under- 
took a business commission for a large house in New York, the 
prosecution of which took him over the Alleghanies, into the States 
of Ohio and Kentucky, — and on his return, with the intention of 
pursuing a mercantile life, he entered as a clerk in a counting-room in 
the city of New York. But neither law nor commerce seemed to 
open the field in which he could labor with his whole heart and 
mind, although he often referred to his early acquaintance wdth their 
elementary principles and forms of business and practice, as a valualble 
part of his own education. Neither did he regard his collegiate 
education as at all an inappropriate preparation for a life of active 
mercantile business. He never entertained, for himself or his children, 
the absurd and mischievous notion, which is too prevalent in society, 
that a man having a collegiate or a liberal education must necessarily 
preach, or practise law, or hold a political ofiice, or trade, or spec- 
ulate on a large scale, to be respectable. He regarded the thorough 
training of the mind, and large acquaintance with books and men, as 
a fit preparation for any business or pursuit. 

Mr. Gallaudet made a public profession of his religious faith, and 
became a member of the First Congregational Church of Hartford, 
under the ministry of Kev. Dr. Strong. In the fall of 1811, he com- 
menced the study of theology at Andover, which he prosecuted with 
his usual diligence and success, amid all the interruptions and draw- 
backs of delicate health. He was licensed to preach in 1814, and 
received, immediately, an invitation to assume the pastoral relations 
with a church in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and from several par- 
ishes in Connecticut ; but, although admirably adapted for such a life, 
his Master had work for him in other and no less important fields of 
Christian duty. 

Mr. Gallaudet was now twenty-seven years old. " His life, thus 
far, was a course of diligent and thorough preparation for a career of 
eminent usefulness in any department of literary or professional labor. 
His mind was disciplined and enriched by an assiduous improvement 
of all the advantages of one of the best colleges in our country. He 
had assured himself of his own knowledge, by his success as a practi- 
cal teacher. He had devoted much time to the attentive study of 
English literature, and to the practice of English composition. He had 
gained a knowledge of the elementary principles of law, and of legal 
forms, by an attendance on legal proceedings in court, and in the office 
of a successful practitioner. He had gone through a thorough course 
of theological study, and had already officiated with grr at acceptance 


as a preacher in a temporary supply of the pulpit in several places. 
He had seen much of the world, and the transactions of business, in 
travel, and in the practical duties of the store and the counting-room. 
He was imiversally respected for his correct life, as well as thorough 
scholarship, and beloved for his benevolent feelings, social qualities, 
and courteous manners. He was ready for his mission. That mission 
was the long-neglected field of deaf-mute instruction, to which his 
attention had already been turned from his interest in little Alice 
Cogswell,* whose father's residence was in the immediate neighbor- 
hood of his own home, and who was, also, the companion of his own 
younger brothers and sisters. It was during an interview in his 
father's garden, where Alice was playing with other children, that Mr. 
Gallaudet, then a student at Andover, succeeded in arresting her 
attention by his use of signs, the natural language of the deaf and 
dumb, and in giving her a first lesson in written language, by teaching 
her that the word hat represented the thing^ hat, which he held in his 
hand. Following up this first step, in such methods as his own inge- 
nuity could suggest, and with such lights as he could gather from a 
publication of the Abbe Sicard, which Dr. Cogswell had procured from 
Paris, Mr. Gallaudet, from time to time, succeeded in imparting to 
her a knowledge of many simple words and sentences, which were 
much enlarged by members of her own family, and, especially, by her 
first teacher, 31iss Lydia Huntley [better known as Mrs. Sigourneyj.t 
This success encouraged her father in the hope that, instead of sending 
his child, made more dear to him by her privations, away from home, 
to Edinburgh, or London, for instruction in the schools of Rev. R. 
KinnibiQ'gh, or Dr. Watson, a school might be opened in Hartford. 

Dr. Cogswell had already ascertained, by a circular addressed to the 
Congregational clergymen of Connecticut, that there were at least 
eighty deaf mutes in the state, many of whom were young enough to 
attend a school ; and his Christian benevolence prompted the aspira- 
tion and belief that it was not the " will of our Father who is in 
heaven, that one of these little ones should perish." With these data 
and aims before him, and with such information as he could gather as 
to the progress and results of deaf-mute instruction in Europe, he 
addressed himself to the Christian benevolence and kind feelings of his 
neighbors and friends, for their cooperation. A meeting was accord- 
ingly held at his house, on the thirteenth of April, 1815, composed 

* We shall ^ive, in a subsequent number of the Journal^ a brief biographical sketch of Alice 
Cogswell, whose name is so indissolubly connected with the history of deaf-mute instruction in 

t Mrs. Slyourney has given an interesting sketch of Alice, in her interesting Tolome entitled 
'« My Pupils," published by Carter, Xew York, 1853. 


(as appears from a journal kept by Mr. Gallaudei) of Mason F. 
Cogswell, M. D., Ward Woodbridge, Esq., Daniel Wadsworth, Esq., 
Henry Hudson, Esq., Hon. Nathaniel Terry, John Caldwell, Esq., 
Daniel Buck, Esq., Joseph Battel, Esq. (of Norfolk), the Rev. Nathan 
Strong, D. D., and Rev. Thomas H. Gallaudet. The meeting was 
opened with the invocation of the Divine blessing on their undertaking, 
by Rev. Dr. Strong, and after a full discussion of the practicability of 
sending some suitable person to Europe, to acquire the art of instruct- 
ing the deaf and dumb. Dr. Cogswell and Mr. Woodbridge * were 
appointed a committee to obtain subscriptions for the purpose, and 
ascertain the name of a suitable person who would consent to go. 

To Mr. Gallaudet, the eyes of all interested in the object were 
instinctively turned, as the one person, qualified beyond all others, by 
his manners, talents, attainments, and Christian spirit, to engage in 
this mission. After much prayerful consideration of the subject, and 
not till he had failed to enlist the agency of others in this pioneer 
work of benevolence, on the twentieth of April, 1815, he informed Dr. 
Cogswell and Mr. Woodbridge " that he would visit Europe for the 
sake of qualifying himself to become a teacher of the deaf and dumb 
in this country." On the twentieth of May following, he sailed for 
New York, in the prosecution of his benevolent object. 

Encountering unexpected delays in obtaining admission as a pupil 
into the London Asylum, then under the care of Joseph Watson, 
LL. D., he had made arrangements to spend a year in the institution 
at Edinburgh, which was also likely to be thwarted, when he opportunely 
gained an introduction to the Abbe Sicard, who was at that time on a 
visit to London for the purpose of giving a course of lectures explana- 
tory of his method of teaching the deaf and dumb, accompanied by 
Massieu and Clerc, his favorite pupils and assistants. By this benevo- 
lent man, one of the greatest benefactors of the deaf mute, Mr. Gal- 
laudet was cordially received, and invited to visit Paris, where every 
facility would be extended to him without fee, or hindrance of any 
kind. He accordingly repaired to Paris, where he devoted himself 
assiduously to the study of deaf-mute instruction until July, 1816, 

* Mr. Woodbridge was then in the prime of life, and in the front rank of the mercantile interest 
of Hartford. By his personal solicitation, and the example of his own liberal subscription, he 
Bucceeded in the course of one day in obtaining the pledge of a sufficient sum to meet the expense 
of the enterprise, and, it is safe to say, that no other business transaction of his life is now asso- 
ciated with such a train of pleasant recollections. He, and Daniel Buck, Esq., are now [1856] the 
only survivors of that first voluntary association, in whose prayers, pecuniary contributions, and 
personal exertions, the American Asylum had its origin. Foremost on the list of subscribers in 
amount, stands the name of Daniel Wadsworth, who gave, to the community in which he lived, 
through a long life, a beautiful example of the true uses of wealth, by its judicious expenditure 
under his own personal inspection, for the promotion of Christian, benevolent, patriotic, and 
literary purposes. 


when he had the happiness of embarking for America with Mr. Lau- 
rent Clerc, a highly educated deaf mute, one of the ablest pupils of 
Sicard, and one of the best teachers of the Paris Institution, — an 
event* of scarcely less importance to the immediate success of the 
American Asylum, than Mr. Gallaudet's own consent to yisit Europe 
in its behalf. 

After two years of preparation, spent in organizing an association 
based on the principle of permanency, raising funds, training and pro- 
curing teachers, and making its objects known through the press, 
personal interviews, and public addresses, the Asylum was opened with 
a class of seven pupils, on Wednesday, the fifteenth of April, 1817, in 
the south part of the building now occupied by the City Hotel, in 
Hartford. On the Sunday evening following, — April 20th, — just 
two years after he had signified his assent to devote himself to this 
enterprise, Mr. Gallaudet delivered a discourse in the Centre Congre- 
gational Church, before a crowded audience, and in the presence of his 
interesting group of seven pupils, from the words of Isaiah : — " Then 
the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf un- 
stopped. Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of 
the dumb sing ; for, in the wilderness, waters shall break out, and 
streams in the desert " — in which he set forth the advantages likely 
to arise from the establishment of the Asylum, and the motives which 
should inspire those ^ who are interested in its welfare with renewed 
zeal and the hopes of ultimate success. On rising from a fresh peru- 
sal of this admirable discourse, written in such pure, polished, and 
idiomatic English, and breathing so much of the spirit of Him, by 
whose miraculous agency the ears of the deaf were opened, and the 
tongue of the dumb loosened ; and contrasting that group of seven 
pupils, ignorant, isolated, and unhappy, and the moral desert in which 
the deaf mute then dwelt, with the thousands of the same class who 
have since been instructed, and the thousand homes which have since 

* How touchingly did Mr. Gallaudet refer to that event in his address at the erer-memorabte 
gathering of the deaf and dumb at Hartford, thirty -four years afterwards : — " What should I 
have accomplished, if the same kind Providence had not enabled me to bring back from France, 
his native land, one whom we still rejoice to see among us, himself a deaf mute, intelligent and 
accomplished, trained under the distinguished Sicard, afc that time teaching the highest class in 
the Paris Institution, to be my coadjutor here at home ; to excite a still deeper interest in the 
object to which he came to devote his talents and efforts ; to assist in collecting those funds 
which were absolutely essential for the very commencement of the operations of the Asylum ; 
to be my first, and, for a time, only fellow -laborer in the course of instruction, and then to ren- 
der necessary and most efficient aid in preparing for their work the additional teachers who 
were needed." 

Although he came to a land of strangers, he now (1856) finds himself, as the years pass lightlj 
over him, near his children and grand-children, amid a circle of appreciating friends and grato 
ful pupils, who will ever shower blessings on him for his many sacrifices and Uibovs in their be- 


been cheered and blessed, and all the good, direct and indirect, to the 
cause of Christian philanthropy which has flowed out of these small 
beginnings, we seem almost to stand at the well-spring of that river 
of life, seen in the vision of the prophet, which, flowing out from be- 
neath the sanctuary, and on the right hand of the altar, into the wilder- 
ness, a little rill that could be stepped over, widened and deepened in 
its progress, till it became a mighty stream, — a stream which could 
not be passed, imparting life wherever it came, and nourishing all 
along its banks, trees, whose fruit was for meat, and whose leaves for 

From time to time, in the course of every year, before the legisla- 
tures of the several New England States, in the halls of Cpngress, in 
all of the large cities of the Northern and Middle States, Mr. Gallau- 
det, accompanied and assisted by Mr. Clerc, and, not unfrequently, by 
a class of pupils, continued to present and advocate the claims of the 
deaf mute on the benevolent regards of individuals and public bodies. 
The way was thus prepared for that liberality which has since marked 
the legislation of the country, by which the education of the deaf and 
dumb has become part of the public policy of all the older, and most 
of the new States. 

It will not be necessary to follow any further in detail Mr. Gallau- 
det's labors in connection with the American Asylum, and for the 
benefit of the deaf and dumb. These labors were eminently judicious 
and successful ; and although in an undej-taking of such magnitude 
there are many agencies and many laborers, and all those who work 
at the foundation, or even beyond that, who gather slowly the material 
and the laborers, and those who work on the top stone, or the orna- 
ments, perform a necessary and an honorable part, and all deserve to 
be remembered with gratitude, still it is instinctively and universally 
felt that the directing mind in this great enterprise, — in its inception, 
its gradual maturing, and ultimate organization, — is that of Thomas 
PIoPKiNS Gallaudet. Of this we are sure, that he worked incessantly 
and wisely, and out to the full circumference of his duty and ability. 
His labors and anxieties, necessarily attendant on such an undertak- 
ing, — the striking out of new plans and methods, the reconcilement of 
differing views in different departments of authority and instruction, 
until the best working plan was in successful operation, — were too 
much for a temperament naturally so excitable as his, and for a con- 
stitution never robust. He accordingly felt it necessary to resign his 
place as Principal of the American Asylum in 1830, although he 
never ceased to take an active interest as director in its affiirs, and 
was always consulted, up to his last illness, with filial confidence and 
affection, by the instructors and directors of the institution 


The repose from constant occupation in the instruction and over- 
sight of the affairs of the Asylum which his resignation aflForded him, 
was devoted by Mr. Gallaudet to the prosecution of literary pursuits, 
as congenial to his tastes and early habits, and as a means of support- 
ing his family. He was distinguished, while in college, for his facility 
and felicity in English composition ; and the volume of Discourses, 
preached by him in the chapel of the Oratoire, while studying in 
Paris, and published in 1817, in which the purity at once of his 
literary taste and Christian character is displayed, would alone 
entitle him to a prominent place among the worthies of the American 
pulpit. In 1831, he published the " Child's Book on the Soul," which 
exhibits his remarkable tact in bringing the most abstract subject 
within the grasp of the feeblest and youngest mind. This little vol- 
ume has gone through a large number of editions, in this country and 
in England, and has been translated into the French, Spanish, Ger- 
man, and Italian languages. This publication was followed by sev- 
eral others of the same character, and which were widely read. His 
*' Mother's Primer " has lightened the task of infantile instruction in 
many homes and many schools ; and his "Defining Dictionary," and 
" Practical Spelling-Book," composed in connection with Rev. Horace 
Hooker, rigidly and perseveringly followed, are invaluable guides to 
teacher and pupil to a practical knowledge of the meaning and use of 
our language in composition and conversation. At the urgent request 
of the American Tract Society, he commenced, in 1833, the publica- 
tion of a series of volumes under the general title of *' Scripture Biog- 
raphy," which was incomplete at the time of his death, but which, as 
far as published, are to be found in most of the Sunday School and 
Juvenile Libraries of our country. In 1835, he published the first 
part of a work, with the title of " The Every-Day Christian," in which 
he endeavors to delineate certain traits of Christian character, and to 
lead his readers to the consideration of certain every-day duties, 
which are in danger of being overlooked amid the occupations and 
pursuits of this world. In this volume he unfolds, at some length, 
his own ideal of a Christian life, as exhibited in the family state, and 
in the faithful and conscientious performance of a class of duties 
which, although unseen, are essential parts of the vast moral machi- 
nery which the Almighty Hand is wielding for the accomplishment of 
the designs of Infinite Wisdom and Goodness. The plan of the work 
was probably suggested by a movement on the part of many public- 
spirited and benevolent citizens of Hartford, in the winter of 1834- 
35, to promote the cause of moral reform among the youth of that 
city. The prosecution of the object, to Mr. Gallaudet's mind, was 
accompanied with too much denunciation of amusements, innocent in 


themselves, and objectionable only when pursued too far, and under 
circumstances calculated to lead to excessive indulgence, and to vicious 
associations and associates. His mode of keeping young people out 
of places of idle and corrupting resort, as set forth in a public 
address at that time, and more elaborately in this little volume, is to 
make home pleasant and attractive, — to cultivate the taste and the 
habits of reading, of fireside amusements and social intercourse — 
and to make home attractive not only to the children of the family, 
but to clerks and apprentices, who may be in the employment or 
under the guardianship of the head of the family. 

Valuable as these publications are, both in the matter and manner 
of their execution, and popular as many of them have been and still 
are, they are only the indications of what he might have accomplished 
in this department of authorship, if he had enjoyed firmer health and 
more leisure for meditation and study. It is safe to say that Mr. 
Gallaudet never rose in the morning without having in his mind or on 
his hands some extra duty of philanthropy to perform, — something 
beyond what attached to him from his official or regular engagements. 
His assistance was asked whenever an appeal was to be made to the 
public, in behalf of a benevolent or religious object, which required 
the exercise of a cultivated intellect, the impulses of a benevolent 
heart, and the personal influence of a character confessedly above all 
political and sectarian principles. 

Although through his whole life a practical educator and teacher, 
it was during this period that he distinguished himself as the friend, 
and efficient promoter by pen and voice, of educational improvement. 
On all movements in behalf of general education, in institutions and 
methods, he formed his own opinions with his usual caution, and 
maintained them with courtesy and firmness. While he acknowledged 
the fact of mutual instruction in the family and in life, which lies at 
the foundation of Bell's and Lancaster's systems of monitorial 
instruction, as an educational principle of universal application in 
schools, and always advocated and practised the employment of older 
children in the family, and of the older and more advanced pupils in 
the school, in the work of instructing and governing the younger and 
least advanced, he never countenanced for a moment the idea which 
swept over our country from 1820 to 1830, that monitors, young and 
inexperienced in instruction and life, could ever supply the place, in 
schools, of professionally trained teachers of mature age, thorough 
mental discipline, and high moral character. 

Although he always advocated, and applied in his own family and 
family school, the principles of infant education, commencing with 
the child while in the arms of the mother and the lap of the father, 


he kept aloof from the efforts which were so generally put forth in 
our larger cities, from 1826 to 1832, for the establishment of infant 
schools, as then understood and conducted. He sympathized deeply 
in the movement for the establishment of manual labor schools from 
1832 to 1838, and was the constant advocate of more thorough 
physical education in institutions of every grade, from the family to 
the professional school. Although not strictly the first to present to 
the people of Connecticut and of New England the necessity of pro- 
viding special institutions for the professional training of young men 
and young women for the office of teaching, his " Letters of a Father," 
published in the Connecticut Observer in 1825, and afterward 
circulated in a pamphlet, were among the earliest and most effective 
publications on the subject. 

He was among the most earnest to call attention, in conversation, 
through the press, and in educational meetings, to the whole subject 
of female education, and especially to the more extensive employment 
of females as teachers. His hopes for the regeneration of society, 
and especially for the infusion of a more refined culture in manners 
and morals into the family, and especially into common schools, rested 
on the influence of pious and educated women as mothers and 
teachers. He was early interested in the establishment of the Hart- 
ford Female Seminary, and delivered an address in 1827 in its behalf, 
which was published. He was connected with the general supervision 
of the Seminary, and with its instruction as lecturer on composition 
and moral philosophy, in 1833. 

Although, in the absence of such common schools as could meet his 
views of the wants of his own children, especially in all that regards 
moral and religious culture, and personal habits and manners, he for 
years established a small family school for the education of his own 
children, and the children of his immediate friends, he was ever the 
advocate of the most liberal appropriation, and of the most complete 
organization, instruction and discipline of public or common schools, 
— and he did much, by pen and voice, to advocate their improve- 
ment. As has already been stated, so early as 1825, he fixed for the 
first time the attention of educators, and to some extent of the public, 
on the source of all radical and extensive improvement of them and 
all schools, in the professional training of teachers. In 1827 he was 
an active member of the Connecticut Society for the Improvement of 
Common Schools, of which Hon. Roger Minot Sherman was President, 
and the Rev. Horace Hooker, and the Rev. Thomas Robbins, D. D., 
the real laborers, — one of the first, if not the first society of the 
kind in this country. Ho was a member of the committee of 
arrangements in the teachers' convention held in Hartford, in Octo- 


ber, 1830, of which Noah Webster, LL. D., was President. The 
discussions in that convention, of such topics as the influence of the 
school fund of Connecticut as the main reliance of the people for the 
support of common schools, in which Dr. Humphrey, then President 
of Amherst College, a native of the State, and a teacher for many 
years in her district schools, took an active part ; — the proper con- 
struction of school-houses, on which subject Dr. William A. Alcott 
read a paper, which was afterward published as a prize essay by the 
American Institute of Instruction, and circulated all over the coun- 
try ; — the qualifications of teachers, which was ably presented in a 
lecture by Rev. Gustavus Davis, — had a powerful influence on the 
cause of educational improvement throughout New England. In 
1833 he wrote a little tract, entitled " Public Schools Public Bless- 
ings," which was published by the New York Public School Society for 
general circulation in the city of New York, at a time when an efibrt 
was made, which proved successful, to enlarge the operations of that 

Ill 1838, he was the person, and the only person, had in view, to 
fill the office of Secretary of the Board of Commissioners of Com- 
mon Schools in Connecticut, when the bill was drafted for a public 
act " to provide for the better supervision of common schools " in 
Connecticut. The post was urged on his acceptance, with the offer 
and guaranty by individuals of an addition of one third to the salary 
paid by the State. He declined, mainly from his unwillingness to 
absent himself as much from his family as the plan of operations 
contemplated, and also " because of the apathy, as to the impor- 
tance of this cause, which he had many reasons to know weighed not 
only on the public mind generally, but on the minds and hearts of 
good men, and even Christians, who take an active and liberal part in 
other moral and religious movements. To break up this apathy, 
requires more of youthful strength and enthusiasm than can be found 
in an invalid and a man of fifty years of age." In a conversation 
held with the individual who afterward entered on this field of labor, 
through his earnest solicitations, Mr. Gallaudet anticipated the diffi- 
culties which that enterprise afterward encountered, and which he 
feared would " probably not entirely defeat, but must inevitably post- 
pone its success. But never mind ; the cause is worth laboring and 
sufi'ering for ; and enter on your work with a manly trust that the 
people will yet see its transcendent importance to them and their 
children to the latest posterity, and that God will bless an enterprise 
fraught with so much of good to every plan of local benevolence." In 
company with the Secretary, he visited every county in the State in 
1838, and addressed conventions of teachers, school officers and 


parents. He took part in the course of instruction of the first 
normal class, or teachers' institute,* held in this country, in 1839, 
and again in a similar institute in 1840. He appeared before the 
Joint Committee of Education in the General Assembly, on several 
occasions when appropriations for a normal school were asked for. 
He was one of the lecturers in the teachers' convention held in Hart- 
ford in 1846, — and had the gratification of welcoming to the State 
Normal School at New Britain, in 1850, the first class of pupil 
teachers, and of taking part in their instruction. He was to have 
delivered a public address before one of the literary societies in that 
institution, called, in gratitude for his early and constant advocacy 
of normal schools, after his name, at the first anniversary of the State 
Normal School in September, 1851. 

Mr. Gallaudet was a contributor at different times to the " Annals 
of Education," while under the charge of William C. Woodbridge, 
and to the " Connecticut Common School Journal " from 1838 to 1842. 
In 1839 he edited an American edition of "Principles of Teaching, 
by Henry Dunn, Secretary of the British and Foreign School Society, 
London," under the title of " Schoolmaster's Manual " — a truly val- 
uable work, which has gone through many editions in England. 

He took an active interest in the lyceum movement, from 1826 to 
1840, — and particularly in the Goodrich Association, in 1831, under 
whose auspices the first course of popular lectures was delivered in 
Connecticut, — and in the proceedings of the American Lyceum, at 
its annual meeting in Hartford, in 1838, out of which originated the 
Hartford Young Men's Institute in the same year. In fine, he sym- 
pathized with, and participated, so far as his health and other 
engagements would allow, in every movement which aimed to elevate, 
purify and bless society through a wide-spread system of popular 

In 1837, the county of Hartford, through the exertions mainly of 
Alfred Smith, Esq., erected a prison, on a plan which admitted of a 
classification of the prisoners, of their entire separation at night, of 
their employment in labor under constant supervision by day, and of 
their receiving appropriate moral and religious instruction. Mr. 
Gallaudet sympathized warmly with this movement, and in the absence 
of any means at the disposal of the county commissioners to employ 
the services of a chaplain and religious teacher, volunteered to dis- 
charge these duties without pay. He continued to perform religious 
service every Sabbath morning for eight years, and to visit the prison 
from time to time during each week, whenever he had reason to sup- 

• An account of this Institute is publislied in the "Connecticut Common School Journal " for 


pose his presence and prayers were particularly desired. In such 
labors of love to the criminal and neglected, unseen of men, and not 
known to twenty individuals in Hartford, the genuine philanthropy 
and Christian spirit of this good man found its pleasantest field of 

On the sixth of June, 1838, Mr. Gallaudet became connected 
with the Connecticut Retreat for the Insane,* as chaplain, the duties 
of which ofiice he continued to discharge, with exemplary fidelity and 
happy results, up to the day of his last illness. 

Mr. Gallaudet entered on his new and interesting field of labor with 
his usual caution, preparation and thoroughness. No man could 
study his duties with a more prayerful and earnest spirit, — no one 
could improve more faithfully every opportunity to become intimately 
acquainted with the peculiarities of the mental and moral condition 
of each of the numerous inmates of the Retreat, — no one could aim 
to act in more perfect accordance with the counsels and directions of 
the superintending physician, — no one could select with more cau- 
tious deliberation the truths of religion which could be advantageously 
adapted to those who are laboring under mental or moral delusions, 
or more wisely present the motives which could aid in leading back 
such to a self-controlling and healthful coiliition of mind, or adminis- 
ter the consolation that would reach their real or supposed trials. 
The experience of each successive year furnished accumulating evi- 
dence of the usefulness of his labors, and the efficacy of kind moral 
treatment and a wise religious influence in the melioration and care of 
the insane. How beautifully did both his manner and success illus- 
trate the wisdom of that law of kindness, which Dr. Todd impressed 
on the organization of this retreat as the all-pervading and plastic 
power of its moral discipline ! 0, how vividly did his mode of con- 
versing with the insane bring back the image and language of that 
gifted man, — the first physician and founder of the Retreat ! — how 
beautifully did the labors of both realize the language in which 
Whittier describes the true mode of dealing with the insane ! 

* Although the directors of this institution were the first to make an appointment of this 
character, not only for the purpose of daily family worship, and religious worship on the Sabbath 
for its officers and inmates, but as part of the system of moral treatment of insanity, — still the 
earliest movement in this direction was made by the trustees and superintendent of the State 
Lunatic Hospital at Worcester, Mass., in 1835. 

To carry out his plans to perfection in this important department of the moral treatment of 
insanity, and especially in its early stages, Dr. Woodward felt the necessity of having the co- 
operation of a clergyman of cheerful and yet fervent piety, of large acquaintance with men, and 
of great versatility in modes of reaching the human mind and heart, and, above all, of that Christ- 
like spirit, " which, touched with a sense of human infirmity," should not expend itself in passive 
pity, but in wholesome and practical action for its relief. These qualities and qualifications he 
knew belonged, in a preeminent degree, to Mr. Gallaudet, and to him the chaplaincy in the 
institution at Worcester was tendered. 


" Gentle as angels' ministry, 
The guiding hand of love should be, 

Which seeks again those chords to bind 
Which human woe hath rent apart, — 

To heal again the wounded mind, 
And bind anew the broken heart. 
The hand which tunes to harmony 
Tlie cunning harp whose strings are riven 
Must move as light and quietly 
' As that meek breath of summer heaven 
Which woke of old its melody } — 
And kindness to the dim of soul, 
Whilst aught of rude and stem control 
The clouded heart can deeply feel, 
Is welcome as the odors fanned 
From some unseen and flowering land, 
Around the weary seaman's keel ! " 

Mr. Gallaudet's experience and observations among the insane were not 
lost upon him as an educator, but furnished him with facts and illustra- 
tions, by which, in his practical lectures to teachers, or conversation with 
parents and others interested in the cause of education, he shed light 
upon questions of deep and general interest connected with the philoso- 
phy of mind, and the reciprocal influence which the mind and body 
have upon each other, — the elements of moral science, — the educa- 
tion and training of childrea" and youth, both in families and schools, — 
the preservation of health and reason, and the precautionary measures 
to be pursued to guard against the ills of the flesh and the spirit, and 
thus enabling every individual to prevent more than the most success- 
ful institution can ever mitigate or remove. To him the Retreat was 
not only the field of Christian benevolence, but a school of practical 
wisdom as an educator. In the conviction that a defective and faulty 
education, through the period of infancy and youth, is the most prolific 
cause of insanity, and that we must look to a well directed system of 
education, having for its object physical improvement, no less than 
moral and mental culture, as the best security against the attacks of 
this most formidable disease, he dwelt on the importance of paying 
attention to the physical condition and improvement of schools, to 
ventilation, to all the arrangements of the yard, to exercise, to fre- 
quent intervals of relaxation from study spent in the fresh air and in 
athletic sports, to the proportionate development of all the faculties, 
and, in all cases, to the avoidance of undue stimulants to study, espe- 
cially with young children and with females. 

In 1835-6 Mr. Gallaudet was induced by an association of which 
Mr. Richard Bigelow and Henry Hudson, Esq., of Hartford, were the 
active members, to visit the western states in reference to a plan of 
religious education for that section of the country, which, in coopera- 
tion with local and individual efforts, and in aid of existing schools, 


contemplated a supply of well qualified teachers and the establishment, 
in each state, of at least one model institution of Christian education. 
The financial disasters which swept over the country soon after, crip- 
pled the means of several of the active promoters of the plan, and it 
was postponed, never to be renewed under the same auspices.* 

Among the religious and benevolent enterprises in which he was 
particularly interested, maybe mentioned the American Tract Society, 
of the Connecticut branch of which he was for many years president ; 
the cause of universal peace, which he aimed to promote by dissemi- 
nating information among all men, of the anti-Christian tendency of 
the war spirit, and by cultivating, in every way, the doctrines and 
graces of Christianity, commencing always with the individual, and 
spreading out through the family and the neighborhood, till they em- 
braced the state and the world ; and the civilization and Christianiza- 
tion of Africa by means of colonies of free, intelligent, and religious 
blacks from this country. To the American Colonization Society and 
its affiliated societies, he was in the habit of looking as the great 
instrumentality, under Providence, for elevating the condition of the 
African race in its own home, and wherever the cupidity of other 
races may have forcibly transplanted it. No man could be more kind 
and considerate in his attentions and efforts to improve the condition 
of this class of our population at home, and especially in providing 
them with the means of intellectual and religious improvement. 

After living a life of practical usefulness, such as it is the privilege 
of but few good men to live, and yet such as every wise man at the 
time of his death, if he could live his life over again, would aspire to 
live, Mr. Gallaudet died as every good man would desire to die. 
Overtaken by sickness in the discharge of his duties at the Retreat, 
he retired to his own heme and his chamber on the night of the 
twentieth of July, to go no more out, until borne by others to his last 
resting-place. His disease proved to be an aggravated form of dysen- 
tery, and so prolonged and so severe was the attack, that his consti- 
tution, never robust, and his strength, which was never vigorous, and 
which for the last twenty years had been husbanded only with extreme 
care, sank beneath it ; and after forty-six wearisome days and nights, 
during most of which his mind was remarkably clear and active, and 
his faith undimmed, he died on the tenth of September, 1851, leaving 
to his widow and eight children, and the sorrowing community where 
he was best known, the inestimable legacy of his life and character, 
and the consoling lesson of his death. 

* At a later period a somewhat similar enterprise was undertaken by Miss Catherine E. 
Beecher, to which Mr. Gallaudet ever gave his counsel and aid, in preparing the class of teachers 
who have, for the last eight years, assembled in Hartford for a course of preparatory instruction 
before going west. 


la the bosom of his family, — watched over by the gentle eye of 
affection, — ministered to by children who would keep him yet a lit- 
tle longer from the sky, — the last offices of the sick-room sought by 
neighbors and friends, who would thus requite his kindness to them, 
and mark their appreciation of his worth, — without one gathering 
mist or shade on his hope of a blessed hereafter, secured (to use his 
own language) not by merits of his own, but by the redeeming grace 
of God, — he passed through his last tedious sickness, feeling the 
arm of his Saviour beneath him ; and when his hour came, his spirit 
passed away so gently, that the precise moment was unmarked : 

" They thought him dying when he slept. 
And sleeping when he died. 

" His soul to Him who gave it rose } 
God led him to his long repose, 

His glorious rest ; 
And though that Christiam's sun has set, 
Its light shall linger round us yet, 

Bright radiant, blest." 

Mr. Gallaudet was married, on the tenth of June, 1821, to Miss 
Sophia Fowler, of Guilford, a deaf mute, with whom his acquaintance 
commenced while she was a member of the first class of pupils in- 
structed by him at the Asylum. Seldom has domestic life been 
blessed with so sweet an accord of temper, taste, and views, of family 
instruction and discipline, and by such a bright dower of clustering 
charities, — a triumphant testimony to the deaf mutes, of their inhe- 
rent capability, properly instructed, to take their appropriate position 
of influence in the family state. In no one position did the distin- 
guishing features of his mind and heart shine out more clearly than 
in his own home, and in the practical discharge of his domestic and 
social duties. Here his views, as a wise educator, were illustrated by 
beginning the work of parental instruction and example in the very 
arms of the mother, and in the lap of the father, while natural affec- 
tion tempers authority with love, and filial fear with filial attachment 
and gratitude. Here he aimed to form habits, as well as principles 
of truth, temperance, honesty, justice, virtue, kindness, and industry. 
Here, by example and influence, by well-timed instruction, and judi- 
cious counsels, by a discipline uniform in its demands of strict obe- 
dience, yet tempered with parental fondness and familiarity, did he 
aim to fulfil the obligations which God had imposed on him as the head 
of a family ; and in this preparatory sphere of instruction he had the 
personal and assiduous attention of Mrs. Gallaudet. 




It was the rare fortune of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet not only to 
achieve a great and permanent work of beneficence in the institution 
of the American Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb, but to receive 
while living, the most touching evidences of filial respect and affection 
from the individuals and the class whom his deeds had blessed ; and, 
after his decease, to have had erected to his memory by them an ap- 
propriate and enduring monument of their gratitude, on the ground 
which had been the scene of his labors, and of their happiness. 

The world has seldom witnessed a more novel and affecting specta- 
cle than was exhibited in the Center Congregational Church in Hart- 
ford, on the 26th of September 1850, where a large number of the 
graduates of the institution assembled to testify, by the presentation 
of silver plate, their affectionate respect to their first teachers, Messrs. 
Gallaudet and Clerc, as the chief immediate instruments of their 
own elevation in the scale of intelligence, usefulness, and happiness, 
and the primary agents in procuring all the practical blessings which 
education has given, and is still bestowing on the whole class of deaf- 
mutes in this country. Over four hundred of this unfortunate class 
were present, — probably the largest assemblage of the kind ever seen 
in the world, — with intelligent joy beaming from all their faces, and 
gratitude displayed in their animated and expressive language of 
signs. What a striking contrast to the little group of seven pupils, 
ignorant, lonely, and disconsolate, who gathered in the same place a 
little more than thirty-four years before, at the first formal opening of 
the Asylum, on the 15th of April, 1817 ! Surely, peace and benevo- 
lence have their victories no less than war. Of a truth, * the wilder- 
ness and solitary places have been made glad by the breaking out of 
living waters, and the desert rejoiceth and blossoms as the rose, — the 
ransomed of the Lord have returned with songs and everlasting joy 
upon their head.' 

The testimonial, which originated with Mr. Thomas Brown of New 
Hampshire, one of the earliest and most intelligent of the pupils of 

* The material, and much of the language of this article are drawn from Barnard's Tribute 
to GalUadet, and Prof. Rae's Account of the Monument, in the Annals for October, lSu4. 



the Asylum, who said in the graphic language of signs, "that his 
spirit could not rest until he had devised some method of giving 
expression to the grateful feeling which filled his heart," and was 
eagerly seized and made the common property of all the graduates 
and pupils of the Asylum, consisted of a massive silver pitcher for 
Mr. Gallaudet, and another, of the same size for Mr. Clerc, — each 
pitcher being accompanied by an appropriate salver. 

Upon one side of the pitcher is an engraved scene, representing 
Mr. Gallaudet's going to France in the year 1817, to induce Mr. 
Clerc to come to America to instruct the deaf and dumb. There 
are figures of the gentlemen, and ships and waves illustrating the 
passage across the ocean. The building of the Hartford institution is 
likewise represented. On the other side is seen a picture of the inte- 
rior of the school ; with teachers, and pupils, and apparatus. In front 
and between these scenes, is the head of the Abbe Sicard, of Paris, 
the instructor of Messrs. Gallaudet and Clerc, and said to be a cor- 
rect likeness. On the neck of the pitcher are chased the different 
coats of arms of all the New England states ; and on the handle are 
representations of mute cupids, and also closed hands, indicating the 
sign of the mutes for the fii-st letter of the alphabet. 

The inscriptions are as follows. On the j^tcher destined for Mr. 
Gallaudet, was engraved: — 










HARTFORD, CONN., SEPT. 26tH, 1850. 

On the salver : — 



HARTFORB, CONN., SEPT. 26tH, 1850. 

The addresses and other exercises on the occasion of presenting 
these testimonials were intensely interesting. Well might Mr. Gallau- 
det say that he should think of that day " as standing out with a 
strong and memorable prominence among the days of his earthly 
pilgrimage, and of his former pupils with a father's love." And that 
love was reciprocated by his pupils with truly filial respect and affec- 
tion, which was exhibited in a signal manner on his decease. 



He had ever been regarded by them as their best friend and bene- 
factor, and when his death was announced, a sadness and gloom per- 
vaded their whole community, such as is felt when a beloved father 
dies. They were not satisfied with the ordinary badges of mourning 
and the usual testimonials of respect for their departed preceptor and 
guide. Their feelings prompted them to perpetuate his memory, and 
their own sense of his worth, in a more enduring and costly monu- 
ment. In this work of gratitude and aflfection their hearts were 
united as the heart of one man, and their hands put to it bearing 
offerings for its accomplishment, which if not commensurate with 
their zeal and interest, were yet limited only by their ability to do 
and to give. As the plan and design were wholly their own, which 
they felt unwilling to have modified even by more gifted minds and 
cultivated tastes, so the embodiment of them was effected by their 
unaided contributions ; not a dollar having been received from any 
hearing and speaking person. 

The credit of the general plan of the structure is due to Mr. Albert 
Newsam, of Philadelphia, a former pupil of the Pennsylvania Insti- 
tution, and one of the most skillful engravers and lithographers in 
the United States. The sculptured group on the south panel was 
designed by Mr. John Carlin, of New York, a deaf mute artist of 
growing skill and reputation. The execution of the work, after hav- 
ing been approved by a committee of the Gallaudet Monument Asso- 
ciation, composed exclusively of deaf mutes, and formed for this 
special purpose, was committed to Mr. James G. Patterson, of Hart- 
ford, and his sculptor, Mr. Argenti. 

Both in design and execution, this is undoubtedly one of the most 
beautiful monuments of its kind, in the United States ; worthy of the 
noble name which it is raised to honor. Its whole cost was about 
tu'O thousand and five hundred dollars; which was contributed 
exclusively by the deaf and dumb, over six hundred being able to 
say that, " I helped to bring into being that beautiful work of art, 
and of gratitude." 

The monument stands in the grounds of the American Asylum, 
nearly in front of the center building, and consists of, first, a platform 
of Quincy granite, six feet ten inches square, and ten inches thick — 
the j^linih is also of granite, six feet square and one foot thick — the 
marble base is five feet three inches square, and eighteen inches thick, 
richly moulded — the die consists of four panels ; the south one con- 
taining a bas-relief, which constitutes altogether the most attractive 
feature of the monument. 

Mr. Gallau<]et is represented in the act of teaching little children 


the manual alphabet. Three children are presented, two boys and one 
girl, and the execution of their faces and forms is very beautiful. The 

l- ^ 


' ^' 







artist has succeeded remaikably well in transferring to the stone the 
features of Mr. Gallaudet, and the expression of his countenance. 

On the north panel, the name Gallaudet, in the letters of the 
manual alphabet, is inscribed in bas-relief. On the east panel is the 
following inscription : — 



DECEMBER 10, 1787, 


SEPTEMBER 10, 1851, 


And, on the west panel, is the following : — 










The die is surmounted by a cap, upon which rests the base of the 
column, which is two feet six inches square, the column rising to the 
height of eleven feet. Upon the south side of the column, surrounded 
by radii, is the Syriac word " Ephphatha," — that is, " be opened ; " 
which was spoken by our Saviour when he caused the dumb to speak, 
and the blind to see. The band which connects the two blocks of the 



main column, is encircled with a wreath of ivy, the type of immor- 
tality ; and the column itself is crowned with an ornate capital^ sur- 
mounted by a globe. The whole height of the monument is twenty 
feet and six inches. It is inclosed with a handsome iron fence, with 
granite posts. 

The celebration of the completion of the Gallaudet Monument took 
place on the 26th of September, 1854, by appropriate exercises and 
addresses. The principal address was by Prof. Laurent Clerc, which 
embraced a sketch of the life, services, and character of Mr. Gallau- 
det, and a history and account of the monument. This was followed 
by remarks from the Mayor of the City of Hartford, Hon. Henry C. 
Deming, ^Yho married a daughter of Prof. Clerc ; by Mr. John Carlin, 


a deaf mute of New York ; by Prof. C. C. W. Gamage, a deaf mute 
of the New York Institution ; by Rev. Thomas Gallaudet, rector of 
St. Ann's Church, for deaf-mutes, in New York ; by Mr. Thomas 
Brown, of Henniker, N. H. ; by John O. David, of Amherst, N. II. ; 
and, by liis Excellency, Henry Dutton, Governor of Connecticut. 

There were present on that occasion three hundred and ninety deaf 
mutes whose r>ames were entered, from sixteen different States, and 
educated in seven different Institutions. The oldest person was sixty- 
nine years of age, having finished his studies in Paris in 1805. One 
hundred and fifty of them were married. Forty-five husbands were 
present with their wives, thirty-one others whose deaf-mute partner 
was either absent or dead, and twenty-nine whose partner could hear 
and speak. Of the one hundred and five families represented, seven- 
ty-one had children, amounting in all to one hundred and fifty -four. 
All of these children could hear except eight, and they belonged to 
five different families. In three of these families there was one hear- 
ing and one deaf child ; in another, two deaf children ; and, in the 
other, three deaf ones. The parents of these children were all deaf- 
mutes. About five per cent, of all the children were deaf-mutes, and 
the same proportion of families had deaf-mute children in them. Of 
one hundred and ninety-three men present whose occupation was 
ascertained, one hundred and thirty -five were mechanics, thirty- six 
farmers, eight teachers, seven artists, four clerks, two laborers and one 
merchant. From their appearance, the account given of themselves, 
and information obtained from others, there was good reason to 
believe that they were supporting themselves and families in a respect- 
able and comfortable manner. The Governor of Connecticut, after 
having surveyed the assembly from the elevated platform occupied by 
the orator of the day, said in a few closing remarks, that he had 
rarely addressed an audience of equal size, exhibiting the appearance 
of superior intelligence and respectability. The meeting will long be 
remembered by them as a bright day in their calendar. The joyous 
recognition of old friends after a long separation ; the renewal of 
early friendships ; the interchange of sympathy at the recital of past 
sorrows and trials, of congratulation upon the detail of success and 
good fortune ; and especially the satisfaction expressed and felt by all 
at seeing the great desire of their hearts so happily accomplished, 
conspired to make the occasion one of surpassing interest, and one 
which they will never cease to call up among the bright visions of the 

i^rXa^^^^/^^^^;^ cif^^^/^^^^^^^^ 



Denison Olmsted, one of the earliest advocates of special institu- 
tions for the professional training of teachers in the United States, 
and for nearly fifty years a successful teacher, and promoter of educa- 
tion and science, was born in East Hartford, Connecticut, on the IStli 
of June, 1791. Having lost his father in very early life, his educa- 
tion devolved, from the first, on his surviving parent, who will long- 
be remembered by those who knew her, for her native strength of 
mind, her soundness of judgment, and her uncommon piety and 
benevolence. He was early trained to those habits of order, dili- 
gence, and perseverance, for which he has been so much distinguished 
throughout life. About the age of thirteen, he was placed in a 
country store with a view to the mercantile profession ; but he soon 
showed so strong a taste for science and literature, as to convince his 
associates that he was destined to higher employments. Even at this 
early period he became an earnest student of English literature, and 
made very considerable advances in the elementary mathematics. 
Nothing could satisfy such a mind but the highest advantages for 
education ; and, with the reluctant consent of his guardian, he re- 
solved, at the age of sixteen, to prepare himself for admission to 
Yale College. He accordingly commenced his studies in the year 
1807; and, with a view to husbanding his limited means, he under- 
took the care of a public district school. He thus gained those 
practical views of teaching, and that acquaintance with the youthful 
mind in its early development, which have made him eminently qual- 
ified to prepare text-books in the simplest rudiments, as well as in the 
higher departments of science, and to take an active part in promoting 
the interests of general education in our country. 

Mr. Olmsted entered Yale College in 1809, under the presidency 
of Dr. Dwight, then in the maturity of his powers and the hight 
of his distinguished reputation. He at once took rank among the 
best scholars of his class — a chiss distinguished for the eminent men 
it produced — and graduated with the highest honors of the institu- 
tion in the autumn of 1813, when he delivered an oration on the 
"Causes of Intejlectual Greatness." He immediately resumed his 
favorite employment of teaching ; and for two years had the charge 


of a select scliool in New London, Connecticut, where he was emi- 
nently successful both in discipline and instruction. 

In 1815, he was chosen to the tntorship in Yale College — a labo- 
rious and responsible office, which he filled, wich great acceptance to 
his pii[)i]s and the faculty, for two years, when he accepted the 
appointment of Professor of Chemistry in the University of North 
Carolina, remaining at Yale the following year, as a private pupil of 
Professor Silliraan. There, associated with President Caldwell, Pro- 
fessor Elisha Mitchell, Prof. Ethan A. Andrews, and Professor William 
Hooper, he had the satisfjiction of seeing the university take an eleva- 
ted rank among the higher seminaries of the country. During his con- 
nection with the Ui\iversity of North Carolina, he commenced, under 
the auspices of the legislature, a geological survey of that state, which 
was the first attempt of the kind in this country. 

In 1825, Professor Olmsted was called to the chair of matliematics 
and natural philosopliy in Yale College, which had been filled with 
eminent success by his classmate. Professor Fisher, who perished in 
the Albion, on his outward voyage to Europe for scientific improve- 
ment, in 1822; and afterward by Professor Dutton. The duties of 
the two professorships were discharged by him until 1835, when he 
resigned the chair of mathematics to Professor Anthony I). Stanley, 
whose genius and attainments in these studies he had helped to foster 
and mature. 

Professor Olmsted is the author of several text-books, originally 
prepared to meet the wants of his own college classes, but which 
have taken their place among the standard works of the country. 
His "A^a/wra/ Fhilosopki/''^ appeared in 1831, and was followed 
within a year by the ^''School Philosophf/,^^ adapted to academies and 
high schools ; both have had, and still have, a wide circulation — the 
latter having passed through nearly one hundred editions. In 1830, he 
published ^'Aatronomif^ for college classes, which was followed by a com- 
pendium under the title of ^^ School Aistronomy.'^ In 1842, appeared 
his ^'■RmUnunts of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy^^ ada|)ted to 
pupils in elementary schools, both public and private. This little 
work has pasvsed through fifty editions, and has been printed in 
raised letters for the use of institutions for the blind, having been 
selected by Dr. Howe for its clear, accurate, comprehensive presenta- 
tion of the fundamental principles of the sciences of which it treats. 
His ''"'Letters on Astronomy''^ w;\s prepared as a reading-book for 
the School Library, commenced under the auspices of the Massachu- 
setts Board of Education. It has been used extensively and as a 
text-book, especially in fjniale seminaries. Professor Olmsted brings 


to his preparation of text-books a full and familiar acquaintance with 
the subjects treated, and a practical knowledge of successful methods 
of teaching the same. 

Professor Olmsted deserves honorable mention in the history of 
popular education in the United States, for his early and continued 
advocacy and labors in behalf of improvement in elementary schools. 
In an oration delivered at the commencement exercises of Yale Col- 
lege, in 1810, on taking his degree of Master of Arts, he took for his 
subject, ^'The State of Education in Connecticut'"' In this address he 
l^ointed out "the ignorance and incompetency of schoolmasters" as 
the primary cause of the low condition of the common schools, and 
appealed to public and private liberality to establish and support insti- 
tutions of a higher grade, where a better class of teachers might be 
trained for the lower schools. To meet a great evil by a special rem- 
edy, and at the same time advance the condition of popular educa- 
tion generally, he had already projected the plan of "^Im Academy 
for Schoolmasters.'^ We have before us a communication of his, 
in which he specifies the steps by which he was led to his concep- 
tion of such a seminary. 

" My course as a teacher bogan with a small district school, when I was seven- 
teen years of ago, arul while fitting fov college. I had there a full opportunity to 
bix'onie acquainted with the state of education as it then existed in our village 
schools. On leaving college, in 1813, I resumed the profession of teach»'r (which 
I have followed ever since,) by faking charge of Union School, at New L/jndon, 
This was a select school, supported by a few of the first families of the jilace, who 
desired to obtain for their sons a superior training for business or for college, ac- 
cording to their destination in life. It had been continued for several generations, 
and had enjoyed the instruction of a series of eminent teachers, among whom 
were the celebrated Nathan Hale, Hon. Jacob 1*. Gurley, Ebenezer Learned, Esq., 
]3octor Jonathan Knight, of the medical department in Yale College, and Prof. 
Ebenezer Keilogg, of Williams College. The proprietors, desiring to have their sons 
educated exclusively in that schoi^l, after leaving the rudimentiiry female .schocils, 
introduced them at the early age of eight or nine years, and kept them there until 
they went to bus ncss or to college. The number was limited to thirty, but the 
variety of age, and the different professions in life for which they were destined, 
occasioned an unusual range of studies. Some were in the spelling book; some 
in English grammar and geography ; some in the languages, from Ljitin gram- 
mar to Virgil's Georgles and Xenophon's Anabasis ; and some in different branch;;s 
of mathematics, from simple arithmetic to algebra, surveying, and navigation. 
It required the most exact order and method to complete the round of recitations 
in half a d:»y, and secure, ft>r the whole school, half an hour for penmanship at 
the close of the forencKJU, and half an hour for reading at the close of the after- 

I had here full opportunity of comparing the effect of different courses of study 
upon lads of simiLir age, and soon discovered a marked difference, in intelligence 
and capacity, between those who were studying the languages and mathematics 
preparatory to entering college, and devoted only a small portion of every day to 
the common rudiments, as English grammar, geography, reading, writing, and 
spelling, and those who spent all their time in those elementary studies. I was 
surprised to find that the former excelled the latter even in a knowledge of these 
very studies; they read better, spelt better, wrote better, and were bottiT versed 
in grammar and geography. One inference I drew from this observation was, 
that an extended course of studies, proceeding far beyond the simple rudiments of 


nn English education, is not inconsistent with acquiring a good knowledge of 
those rudiments, but is highly favorable to it ; since, on account of the superior 
capacity developed by the higher branches of study, the rudiments may be better 
learned in loss time; and a second inference was, that nothing was wanted in 
order to raise all our common schools to a far higlier level, so as to embrace the 
elements of English literature, of the natural sciences, and of the mathematics, 
but competent teachers and the necessary btx)ks. 

I was hence led to the idea of a ' Seminary for Schoolmasters,- to be established 
at the expense of the state ; where the instruction, at least, should be gratuitous. 
It was to be under the direction of a principal and an assistant ; the principal to be 
a man of liberal education, of a high order of talent, and an experienced and suc- 
cessful teacher. The assistant was to be well versed in the English branches of 
education, at least. The course of study was to occupy from one to two years, and 
candidates were to be admitted only after an approved examination. The pupils 
wf re to study and recite whatever they were themselves afterward to teach, partly 
for the purpose of acquiring a more perfect knowledge of those subjects, and partly 
of learning from the methods adopted by the principal the best modes of teaching. 
It was supposed that only a small portion of time would be required to be spent 
upon the simple rudiments, but that the greater part m'ght be devoted to English 
grammar and geography, arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and such works as l^lair's 
Rhetoric ; studies adapted to improve the taste, and make correct and accomplished 
writers. Ample instructions also were to be given by the principal on tlie orgauf- 
zation and government of a school. 

A class of sixty pupils, sent out from the seminary ever)' year, would in ten 
years furnish to the village schools a body of able teachers, who would raise the 
standard of education in the common sch(Hj!s to a level with that of the 'academies,' 
which were scattered here and there over the state, being designed to afti>rd to 
the few who could bi-ar the expense, opportunities f(»r learning those liigher 
branches of an English education, which were not attempted at the common 
schools. Few of the whole number of children, however, enjoyed these superior 
advantjiges ; but the greater part finished their education at the village schools, 
with nothing more than reading, spelling, writing, and a little arithmetic. Not 
even grammar and geography were at that time tiiusht in the common schools. 

There was one very encouraging feature in my plan. Xo sooner would this 
superior order of schoolmasters commence their labors, than the seh<x)!s them- 
selves would begin to furnish teachers of a higher order. The schoolmasters 
previously employed, were for tlie most part such as had received all their educa- 
tion at the common schools, an(i could only perpetuate the meager system of beg- 
garly elements which they had learned ; but it was obvious that schools, trained 
in a more extended course of studies, would produce teachers of a corresponding 
character. Therefore, if we could once start the machine, it would go ou by its 
own momentum. 

At the commencement at Yale College, in 1810, when I took my master's 
degree, I bnmght the outlines of this plan before the audience, in an oration on 
the 'State of Education in Connecticut.' I was then a tutor in the college, and 
zealously engaged in instrut-ting aclass ; but I did not lose sight of this favorite idea 
of an 'Academy for Scluwlmasters.' I also laid out a scheme for an extended 
course of newspaper essays, which would fully bring the subject before the public, 
and took every opportunity to present the plan to individuals of eminence, who 
were likely to feel interested in the improvement of our ommon schools, or who 
had influence in the public councils. Should the proposed essays have the desired 
effect of arousing publ-e attention to the importance of the plan, I next intended 
to endeavor to have it brought before the legislature, with the view of securing 
means for carrying it into immediate execution. 

At that moment I unexpectedly received the appointment of Professor of Chem- 
istry in the University of North Carolina. The question was submitted to my 
friends, whether I should accept the invitation, or remain here and endeavor to 
carry out my plan for the establishment of a ' Seminary for School nnasters.' The 
slender prospect of interesting the community in the scheme, and the extreme 
backwardness of our legislature to appropriate funds for the promotion of educa- 
tion, in any other manner than that to which the school fund wjis exclusively 
ievoted, led me to yield, though very reluctantly, to the advice of my friends, and 


accept the appointment from abroad. I liad less occasion to rej[jret this decision, 
since tlie idea of normal schools was shortly aftervvaid conceived by the Rev. 
Thomas II. Gallaudtt, James G. Carter, Esq., Governor IJevvitt Clinton, and others, 
and brought before the public by them under circumstances so much more favorable 
than I could have commanded, had I remained to prosecute my favorite enter- 

As a member of the Board of Commissioners of Common Schools 

for Connecticut in 1840, Prof. Olmsted, in drafting the annual Report 

of the Board to the Legislature, thus returns to the sul)ject which 

first arrested his attention twenty-five years before. 

Wherever normal schof»ls have been established and ably sustained, the experi- 
ment lias uniformly resulted in supplying teachers of a superior order. As in 
every other art whose piinciples are reduetd to rule, and matured into a system, 
the learner is not limited to the slow and scanty results of his single, unaided ex- 
perience, but is at once enriched with the accumulated treasures of all who have 
labored in the same mine before him. Without such an opportunity, he may be 
compared to the medical practitioner, who commences his labors without the 
knowledge of any settled principles of his art, but expects to acquire his knowledge 
of his profession in the course of his practice. If it is plain that the physician 
needs, at the commencement of his career, that knowledge of the healing art 
which contains the embodied experience of those who have gone before him, and 
carried his profession to the h'ghest degree of excellence, no less does the in- 
structor of a school need the wisdom of his predecessors to guide him, at his first 
setting out ; nor can he any better afford to wait for the slow returns of his own 
experience. Indeed, there is, in the c;vse of the young teacher, a peculiar need of 
this wisdom in advance, since the employment is not usually a business for life, 
but only of a few years at furthest, — a period in itself too short to gain much of 
the wisdom of experience, and terminated almost as soon as such wisdom begins 
to be acquired. 

The employment of female teachers to a much greater extent than has hith- 
erto been done, deserves much considei'ation from the friends of this cause. 
Heaven has plainly appointed females as the natural instructors of young children, 
and endowed them with those qualities of mind and disposition which pre-emi- 
nently fit them for such a task. Endued with a greater measure of the gentleness 
so winning and grateful to the feelings of a child, and of the patient forbearance 
so essential to those who are inculcating the first rudiments of knowledge, their 
action on the mind and disposition of the child is peculiarly auspicious. Nor, 
indeed, is the sphere of woman confined to training the minds of pupils in the 
mere elementary branches; when her own mind is disciplined, and exalted by 
cultivation, and enriched with knowledge, she exhibits powers of communicating 
instruction, and indeed all the attributes requisite for teaching and governing a 
school, no wise inferior to those of the other sex. Experiments, as far as they 
have gone, encourage the belief that well-educated f(?niales may bear a far more 
extensive and important part in the instruction and government of our common 
schools than they have hitherto done ; that here is to be found the means, so 
desirable, of a division of labor in schools, when the numbers are too great for one 
preceptor. A signal relief to the preceptor himself, and no less advantiige to the 
pupils, will result from a separation of the school into two departments, the younger 
pupils being committed to a female assistant, while older pupils enjoy almost the 
sole attention of the principal. But if females are to bear so important and exten- 
sive a part in the instruction of common schools, provision must also be made for 
their training in normal schools ; and, in the disposition of any funds appropriated 
to the education of teachers, females, destined for this profession, ought to come in 
for their due proportion. 

In the opinion of the Board, we can not make an adequate provision for the 
supply of the requisite number of teachers, who shall be at once capable of teach- 
ing, in the best manner, all that the pupils of our common schools are capable of 
learning, and of conducting the order and government of their institutions, accord- 
ing to the most approved meth(»ds, without the establishment of normal schools, 
devoted exclusively to the education of teachers, in the principles and practice of 


their profession, and crnided by men eminent for their talents and practical wisdom. 
But if it is thought that we are not prepared to erect and sustain Seminaries of 
this independent and elevated descripiton, the Board would suarwest'the expediency 
of commencing the work of educating teachers on a limited scale, by connecting a 
department for this purpose, with some of the existing academies in ditierent sec- 
tions of the State. A small amount of funds, judiciously expended in the modes 
indicated by the Secretary in his Report, would, in the opinion of the Board, ac- 
complish a great, immediate good in improving the qualifications of our common 
school teachers. 

Professor Olmsted has been one of the few teachers in our higher 
seminaries of learning, who have assisted, from the start, by tlieir 
presence and co-operation the efforts of tlie friends of common schools 
and popular education. His sympatliies have been with those who 
have labored for the improvement of the schools of his native state 
prior to 1826, down to the present time. In 1838, he delivered a 
lecture before the American Institute of Instruction on the School 
System of Connecticut^ in which, after an interval of nearly a quarter 
of a century, he points again to the absence of an institution for the 
education of teachers as the great defect in the school system of the 
state. In 1845, before the same association, he drew the Ideal of a 
Perfect Teacher. Thorough, accurate, and comprehensive knowl- 
edge, — high religious character, deep enthusiastic love of his work 
and faith in its results, a strong and clear intellect, a lively imagina- 
tion, good taste and good manners constitute the indispensable ele- 
ments of a teacher of the people. He has responded cheerfully to 
the call of the Superintendent of Common Schools to address Teach- 
ers' Institutes and Teachers' Associations, and has repeatedly lectured 
in the Hall of the House of Kepresentatives, during the session of the 
Legislature, when any action was to be had in either branch concern- 
ing common schools. He has availed himself at all times of the 
lyceum and the popular lecture, as well as of the daily press, to ap- 
ply the principles of science to the explanation of extraordinary 
phenomena of meteorology and astronomy, as well as to the advance- 
ment of domestic comfort and popular improvement generally. In 
an Essay read before the American Association for the Advancement 
of Education, at New York in 1855, he showed, in a felicitous man- 
ner, that the whole drift and tendency of science in its inventions and 
institutions is democratic. 

His more elaborate scientific papers have appeared in the ^'■Ameri- 
can Journal of Science^'' the '' Transactions of the American Asso- 
ciation for the Advancement of Science'' and the ''Smithsonian Con- 
tributions.'" He has also been a frequent contributor to the " Christian 
Spectator^'''' and the "New Englander.^' 



^O^ff .-i/iKT^' 



By Prof. Henky Fowler, Rochester University, N. Y. 

Mrs. Willard was born Feb. 23d, 1787, in the Worthington 
parish of Berlin, Connecticut. She is of pure English blood, of 
the good old Puritan stock. Her father, Samuel Hart, was de- 
scended from Thomas Hooker, one of the founders of Connecticut. 
H3r mother was Lydia Hinsdale, of a family of marked ability 
and excellence. 

Samuel Hart, Mrs. Willard's father, being an only son, was 
designed for a liberal profession, and was nearly fitted for college 
when his father died, and left the care of his mother, sisters, and 
the farm upon his young shoulders. He bravely undertook the 
burden and bore it manfully ; indeed, with such success that its 
weight seemed to his strong nature to bear too lightly, and to need 
at the age of nineteen the addition of a wife. 

At the age of thirty-three, he was left a widower with six chil- 
dren, and he had lost one in its infancy. He had already become 
a light in the church and a pillar in the State. In a little more 
than a year he was married to the mother of Mrs. Willard, ten 
years younger than himself, who bore him ten children. Of the 
seventeen, thirteen reached mature life. 

The father and mother resembled each other in their puritan 
piety, honesty and sincerity, which knew no guile, — and in their 
Christian benevolence, which seemed to discern no difference 
among the needy creatures of the one Father; and thus they 
passed their many days in an unbroken harmony, which the stern 
pressure of incessant labors could not chafe, nor increasing cares, 
nor sickness, nor bending years, do aught but strengthen. Yet 
they were in leading characteristics strikingly different, and theirs 
was the happy union of opposites, which round out the complete 
ONE. She was practical, quietly executive, severely but unwaver- 
ingly industrious ; and although well educated for her day, and 
tenderly reared, and excelling in all the delicate fabrics of the 
needle, she had in full perfection the New-England trait of making 
much out of little, and a little out of nothing. She had the true 
economy, not of selfish hoarding, but of industriously producing, 
carefully preserving and wisely distributing. As an instance, on 
sorting the wool, as was the women's part, after the shearing in 


the spring — when the best portion had been laid aside as material 
for the faliier's clothes, the second best selected for other " men's 
wear," the tliird best for the " women's wear," then family flannel 
and blanketing were to be provided for, and afterwards coarse 
remnants laid aside for mops. There yet remained scattered tags 
and burred clippings ; — to be burnt ? No, not so. They were 
gathered by themselves, and her little girls, "Nancy and Emma," 
were quietly told by their mother that they might take their bas- 
kets, when their work was done, and carry it to the pasture field 
(where they loved to go), and scatter it upon the bushes which grew 
around the pond, so tiiat the birds might find it to build their nests 
with. Thoughtful loving woman ! — sublime in that charity which 
embraces all the creatures of God. *' Gather up the fragments 
that nothing be lost,'* she had read as the words of her loved Mas- 
ter, and in imitation of Him, she "considered the fowls of the air 
which your Heavenly Father feedeth. " And it is this same 
wise bestowal of the fragments, in imitation of the mother by the 
daughter, which has made the Troy Seminary a source of daily 
support and comfort, through many years, to outside poor, number- 
ing at times many fimilies.* 

And it was this true economy which enabled the mother, in spite 
of the smallness of an income whose limits were inversely pro- 
portioned to the size of her family, always to exercise with cordial 
welcome and in unrestricted measure, the sacred rites of a New- 
England hospitality; and besides, always to have one or more old 
persons in the home to be cared for, nursed and cheered, and some- 
times to bo supported ; at one time her husband's mother, then her 
own parents, afterwards a brother, poor and diseased, and once a 
disabled soldier. Hospitality is a pleasant luxury when one's 
bell-call is answered by trained servants, when the house purse 
is never lean, and the keys always turn upon a bounteous larder; 
but when the mistress of the home (assisted perhaps indeed by her 
daughters), is not only the entertainer, but also her own cook, 
baker, dairy. maid, and laundress ; nay more, the carder of the 
wool for her husband's clothes, the hatcheler of the flax for the 
table linen, the motive power of the wheel which spins, and of 
the loom which weaves — then hospitality rises out of a pleasant 
luxury into a Christian virtue, almost sublime. 

The father's tastes were always literary and scientific. The 
brief life in boyhood had quickened in him an earnest love of 

* " That Seminary will never burn," said once a faithful Irish domestic. " Too 
much good has been done from it to the i)Oor." 


knowledge, and his inquiring spirit was ever seeking its appropri- 
ate life in the midst of books and writing. In the winter's even- 
ing he was in the habit of gathering with wife and daughters 
around the ample fire-place, and reading to them — history, travels, 
metaphysics — even Locke and Berkley ; poetry — Milton, Thomp- 
son, Young ; some fiction of the best — their pleasure only sur- 
passed by his ; reading, interspersed with curious questions, anec- 
dotes, lively discussions, and happy repartee ; for independent opin- 
ions, and their brave maintenance, was the order of the household. 

It was well for the father that he and his family were happy at 
home, for he had cut himself and them from sources of wealth 
and honor, which his talents might have obtained. Soon after his 
second marriage. Captain Hart had been compelled to sacrifice 
influence and worldly prospects to his honest defence, against 
what he esteemed bigotry and persecution. Two of his neighbors, 
Gideon Williams and Nathaniel Cole, could not conscientiously 
pay for the preaching of the place, and became "separatists." At 
that time the tax for the support of the minister was assessed and 
collected like the tax for the support of the officers of the state, 
and the refusal of those men to pay resulted in their imprisonment 
in the Hartford jail. Captain Hart was troubled at this severe ex- 
ercise of power, especially as he was the church treasurer, and 
the warrants for arrest were issued in his name. 

He therefore called a society meeting, advocated toleration, but 
was sustained in his views by only one vote besides his own. He 
immediately resigned his office, withdrew from the church, paid 
the taxes and charges against Williams and Cole, although he 
could ill afford to do it, and released them from prison. Manifold 
were the dealings, private and public, to restore the protesting of- 
fender to the bosom of the church. Pathetic appeals alternated 
with threats. One of the prominent men in one of these con- 
versations with Captain Hart, said, "You must not leave us. We 
cannot spare you. Without your abilities to direct us, what can 
we do?" "Mr. Webster," replied he, "there are two things in 
religion which I despise ; the one is force, and the other flattery.'' 

Desirable offices were forthwith resigned, or barred. He had 
represented the town ; and perhaps there was no man of his age 
in the State, more in the high road to preferment. 

It was the independence of character thus acquired, the love of 
knowledge thus imparted by the father, united to this energetic 
economy, thus enforced by the mother, which has given the dau<rh- 
ter a capacity to establish and perfect an institution, whose success 
depended equally upon self-reliance, intellectual inspiration, and 


cxccutivo ability. To these should bo adJctl ftnother clement 
of success — piiysicnl licalth, and a firm constitution, wliicii Mrs. 
Williird and licr sister, Mrs. Phelps, inherited from their parents 
as the host of legacies. 


An account of Mrs. Willard's early education, we arc able to 
present from a sketch by herself: — 

" In my childhood I attended the district school, but mostly from 
causes already related, none ol my tcaciicrs so understood me as 
to awaken my powers or gain much influence over me. My father, 
happily for his children, left to his own family, used to teach 
us of evenings, and read aloud to us ; and in this way I 
became interested in books and a voracious reader. A village 
library 8upi)lied me with such books as Plutarch's Lives. Rollins' 
Ancient History, Gibbon's Rome, many books of travels, and tho 
most celebrated of tho British poets and essayists. 

Near tho close of my fifteenth year, a new academy was 
opened about three-quarters of a mile from my father's house, of 
which Thomas Miner, a graduate, and once a tutor of Yale Col- 
logo, was tho Principal, afterwards well known as on eminent 
physician president of the State Medical Society, and one of the 
most learned men of our country. Hefore tho opening of the 
Academy, my mother's children had each received a small divi. 
dend from tiio estate of a deceased brother. My sister Nancy* 
determined, as our parents approved, to spend this in being taught 
at tho new school ; but having at that time a special desire to make 
a visit among my married brothers and sisters in Kensington, 
(whose children were of my own oge), I stood ono evening, can- 
die in hand, and made to my parents, who had retired for the 
night, what they considered a most sensible oration, on tho folly of 
people's seeking to bo educated above their means and prescribed 
duties in life. So Nancy went to school, and I to Kensington. A 
fortnight after, one Friday evening, I returned. Nancy showed 

t Mm. Almlm Lincoln Pholps in tho younger sistor of Mrs. Williinl, tho poven- 
toouth ami lust child of Siunucl Ilixrt. Sho is wirloly known as tho uutlior "of 
Mrs. Lincoln's Rotany, and of Mrs. Phclp's Chomistry, and who was also tho 
Principal of Hio Patapsco Fomalo Tnstltutp, of Maryland, which, under her prosl- 
<loncy, was u younger relutivo and harmouioua competitor of tho Troy Seminary; 
tho Bystom niodined, however, by tho commanding; talents of the Principal, as 
times and circumstances ro(iuired. !Mrs. Phelps is a woman of renuukablo oner- 
glos and accomplishments, and has boon greatly successful both as an author and 

* Tho late Mrs. Nancy Siramons, of Now rhiladolphia, Ohio, 


mo her books and told mo of Ikt If.Hsons. 'Muthor,' Hfiid 1, *I 
an) going to 8cIjoo1 to-morrow.* *\Vliy, I thought you hud made 
lip your mind not to be educated, and besides, your clothes are 
n(;t in order, and it will appoar odd for you to enter school Satur. 
day.* Jjut »Saturday morning I werjt, and received my Ichsons in 
Webster's Grammar and Morse's Geography. Mr. Miner was to 
hear me recito by myself until I overtook the class, in which were 
a dozen fine girls, including my elder sister. Monday, Mr. Miner 
called on me to recite. He began with Webster's Grammar, went 
on and on, and still as he rjuestioned received from mo a ready an« 
swcr, until ho said, *I will hear the remainder of your lesson to. 
morrow.' The same thing occurred with the Geography lesson. 
I was pleased, and thought, 'you never shall get to the end of my 
lesson.* That hard chapter on the planets, with their diameters, 
distances, and periodic revoliitions, was among the first of Morse's 
Geography. The evening I wished to learn it, my sister Lydia* 
had a party. Tho house was full of bustle, and above all roee 
the song singifjg, which always fascinated mc. The moon was at 
the full, and snow was on the ground. I wrapt my cloak around 
me, and out of doors of a cold winter evening, seated on a horse- 
block, I learned that lesson. Lessrms so learnt arc not easily for- 
gotten, 'i'he third day Mr. Miner admitted me to my sister's class. 
He u.srd to require daily compositions. I never failed, the only 
one of my class who did not; but I also improved the oppor- 
tunities which these afforded, to pay him off for any criticism by 
wliich he had (intentionaally though indirectly) hit me, — with some 
parody or rhyme, at which, though sometimes pointed enough, Mr. 
Miner would heartily laugh, — never forgetting, however, at some 
time or other, to retort with interest. Thus my mind was stimu- 
lated, and my progress rapid. For two successive years, 1802-3, 
I enjoyed the advantages of Dr. Miner's school, and I believe that 
no better instruction was given to girls in any school, at that time, 
in our country. 

My life at this time was much influenced by an attachment I 
formed with Mrs. Peck, a lady of forty, altlx^ngh I was only 
fifteen. When we were first thrown tf>gether, it was for several 
days, and she treated me not as a child, but an equal— confiding 
to me much of that secret history which every heart sacredly 
cherishes; and I, on my part, opened to her my whole inner life, 
my secret feelings, anxieties and aspirations. Early in the spring 
of 1804, when I had just passed seventeen, Mrs. Peck proposed 
♦Afterword* Mra. Klbha TrcaE 


that a cliildren's scljool in tlie village, shoulJ be [)ut into my 

The school- house was situated in VVorthington street, on the 
great Hartford and New Haven turnpike; and was surrounded on 
the other three sides by a mulberry grove, towards which the 
windows were in summer kept open. 

At nine o'clock, on that first morning, I seated myself among 
the children to begin a profession which I little thought was to 
last with slight interruption for forty years. That morning was 
the longest of my life. I began my work by trying to discover 
the several capacities and degrees of advancement of the children, 
so as to arrange them in classes ; but they having been, under my 
predecessor, accustomed to the greatest license, would, at their op- 
tion, go to the street door to look at a passing carriage, or stepping 
on to a bench in the rear, dash out of a window, and take a lively 
turn in the mulberry grove. Talking did no good. Reasoning 
and pathetic appeals were alike unavailing. Thus the morning 
slowly wore away. At noon I explained this first great perplex- 
ity of my teacher-life to my friend Mrs. Peck, who decidedly ad- 
vised sound and summary chastisement. *I cannot,' I replied; 
♦I never struck a child in my life.' *It is,' she said, *the only 
way, and you must.' I left her for the afternoon school with a 
heavy heart, still hoping I might find some way of avoiding what 
I could not deliberately resolve to do. I found the school a 
scene of uproar and confusion, which I vainly endeavored to 
quell. Just then, Jesse Peck, my friend's little son, entered with 
a bundle of five nice rods. As he laid them on the table before 
me, my courage rose; and, in the temporary silence which en- 
sued, I laid down a few laws, the breaking of which would be 
followed with immediate chastisement. For a few moments the 
children were silent; but they had been used to threatening, and 
soon a boy rose from his seat, and, as he was stepping to the door, 
I took one of the sticks and gave him a moderate flogging ; then 
with a grip upon his arm which made him feel that I was in 
earnest, put hin^into his seat. Hoping to make this chastisement 
answer for the whole school, I then told them in the most endear- 
ing manner I could command, that I was there to do them good — 
to make them such fine boys and girls that their parents and 
friends would be delighted with them, and they be growing up 
happy and useful ; but in order to this I must and would have 
their obedience. If I had occasion to punish again it would be 
more and more severely, until they yielded, and were trying to be 

Mils. EMMA WILLARD. 131 

r;ood. But the cliildrcn still lacked faith in my words, and if my 
recollection serves me, I spent most of the afternoon in alternate 
whippings and exhortations, the former always increasing in in- 
tensify, until at last, finding the difference between capricious 
anger and steadfast determination, they submitted. This was 
the first and last of corporeal punishment in that school. The 
next morning, and ever after, I had docile and orderly scholars. 
I was careful duly to send them out for recreation, to make their 
studies pleasant and interesting, and to praise them when they did 
well, and mention to their parents their good behavior. 

Our school was soon the admiration of the neighborhood. Some 
of the literati of the region heard of the marvelous progress the 
children made, and of classes formed* and instruction given in 
higher branches; and coming to visit us, they encouraged me in 
my school, and gave me valuable commendation. 

At the close of this summer school, I determined to seek abroad 
advantages, especially in drawing and painting, with reference to 
future teaching. The two only remaining sons of my mother had 
become merchants in Petersburg, Virginia, and were able and 
willing to furnish assistance to their younger sisters, and also to 
relieve our parents from the dread of indebtedness, which at one 
time their utmost exertions could scarcely keep from crossing the 
domestic threshold." 

The way was thus opened for Miss Hart's fitteTidance upon a 
school at Hartford. The few following years of alternate teach- 
ing and attending the schools of Mrs. Royce and the Misses Pat- 
tens of Hartford, we have not now time to note minutely. They 
were characterized by unforeseen difficulties overcome, unsus- 
pected energies developed, and highly prized friendships created ; 
Providence as usual helping the self-helpful. 

The solicitation to take charge of the Berlin school, where 
school days had been enjoyed under Dr. Miner, was a gratifying 
circumstance, and the successful management of that school for a 
year and a half, no less so. It was while in charge of this school, 
in the spring of 1807, just after she had passed her twentieth 
birthday, that Miss Hart was invited to teach in three other states. 
Westfiield, Massachusetts ; Middlebury, Vermont, and Hudson, 
New York. Each proposal was a good one. The proximity of 
Westfield to home was the deciding attraction. 

Here Miss Hart found herself very pleasantly situated, as female 
assistant in the academy which has so long sustained so good a 
* In one of these was Mrs. Wilhird's youngest sister, now Mrs. Phelps. 



reputation, — and soon won tlic esteena and affection of licr pupils 
and the excellent inhabitants of VVestfield. But her labors were 
hardly equal to her capacity or ambition, and therefore she ac- 
cepted a second call to Middlebury, to take the entire charge of 
its female school. The trustees of Westfield academy reluctantly 
gave their consent to her leaving.* In the summer of 1907, Miss 
Hurt commenced her labors at Middlebury. For one year the 
sciiool was a brilliant success, when some denominational jealousy, 
spiced perhfjps by some personal envy, bore fruit in a corijibination 
to break down the school. The effort marred for a while without 
permanently injuring ; while it caused a good deal of personal 
suffering, it insured the vigorous support of strong friends, — and 
especially rallied to her defense a gentleman of leading position, 
hitherto unknown to her, who not many months after persuaded 
the successful schoolmistress, nt the age of twenty. two, to become 
the presiding genius of his home and heart. Dr. John Willard 
was at that time a prominent politician of the Republican party, 
being marshall of the state of Vermont, under Jefferson's adminis- 
tration, and supervisor of the direct tax at that time laid by the 
general government. Not only his personal ciiaracter but also 
his profession and his politics attracted, for she had always a taste 
for the study of physiology, and had improved by the society of 
eminent physicians of Connecticut ; t and she was from a child 
noted for interesting herself in the politics of the day, being 
strongly allied by sympathy and association with the Republican 
party, who were opposed to her father's persecutors and opponents. 
Tlie connection proved a happy one. She was ever the devoted 
and honoring wife, and he the considerate, faithful, and proud hus- 
band. He was always tlioroughly interested in his wife's educa- 
tional enterprises, and also in her scientific investigations, and ma- 
terially aided her by his practical good sense and wide experience. 
Nothing was undertaken by her without his approbation, and while 
lie lived he was the entire manager of the financial concerns of 
the family and school. 

* The ensuing spring the trustees requested her to return to Westfield, saying 
she might as to salary make her own terms. 

t Besides her teacher, Dr. iliuer, with whom she corresponded, and who felt 
great pride in her school at Troy, which he visited, (telling on one occasion most 
facetiously what the old sexton said when the dean's sermon was praised, "but 
yoi.i must remember 'twas I that i-ung the bell,") — Dr. Sylvester Wells, of 
Hartford, her first cousin, the firm friend of her youth,— Dr. Wadsworth, of 
Southlngton, the father of Nancy Wad-worth, her most intimate school friend: 
and Dr. Todd, — between whom and herself there existed a friendship which lasted 
until his death. 




Soon after the marriage, Dr. Willurd met witli unexpected hut 
severe financial reverses, which determined Mrs. VViliard, wiih 
his consent, to undertake again the teacher's profession ; and in 
1814 she opened a boarding school. And now we come to what 
constitutes distinctively the educational life of Mrs. Willard. 

Previous experiences, experiments, efforts, trials, and successes, 
had been but the training for this life, not tiie life itself. Her 
teaching at Berlin, Westfield, Middlehury, were liive the society 
debates of the student, only preparation to the real debates in the 
Court House or tiie Capitol. She had tested her powers; she had 
determined and remedied some of her deficiencies; she Iiad 
made choice of principles and metliods, and modes, whicli seemed 
best adapted to develop, control, discipline, encourage. She had 
entered upon spheres of acejuisition ; she had originated some new 
schemes for instruction, and had, to some extent, experimented and 
experimented with success; and she had felt the first glow of that 
enthusiasm in education, which has now to pervade her being and 
mould her life. The creative genius had already been at work, 
but it was only fitful and tentative ; now it has tj labor steadily, 
undeviatingly, successfully. The day of experiments and of 
training, gives place to the day of results and of triumphs ; — a 
great cause inspires effort, and consecration is the forming power 
of her life — consecration to the great cause of female education. 

It is a pleasure to be able to present a sketch of the development 
of i\Irs. Willard's educational life in her own words, taken 
from' a record made for a friend, in 1841. 

*'When I began my boarding school in Middlebury, in 1814, 
my leading motive was to relieve my husband from financial diffi- 
culties. I had also the further object of keeping a better school 
than those about me ; but it was not until a year or two after, that 
I formed the design of effecting an important change in education, 
by the introduction of a grade of schools for women, higher than 
any heretofore known. My neighborhood to xMiddlebury College, 
made me bitterly feel the disparity in educational facilities between 
the two sexes ; and I hoped that if the matter was once set before 
the men as legislators, they would be ready to correct the error. 
The idea that such a thing might possibly be effected by my means, 
seemed so presumptuous that I hesitated to entertain it, and for a 
short time concealed it even from my husband, although I knew 
that he sympathized in my general views. I began to write (be- 


cause I could thus best arrange mv ideas,) 'an address to the 

Legislature, proposing a plan for improving Female Education/ 
It was not till two years after that I filled up the blank. No one 
knew of my writing it, except my husband, until a year after it 
was completed, (1816) for I knew that I sliould be regarded as 
visionary, almost to insanity, should I utter tlie expectations 
which I secretly entertained in connection with it. But it was not 
merely on the strength of my arguments that I reli^. I de. 
termined to inform myself, and increase my personal influence and 
fame as a teacher^ calculating that in this way I might be sought 
for in other places, where influential men would carry my project 
before some legislature, for the sake of obtaining a good school. 
My exertions meanwhile, became unremitted and intense. My 
school grew to seventy pupils. I spent from ten to twelve 
hours a day in teaching, and on extraordinary occasions, as pre- 
paring for examination, fifteen ; besides, always having under in- 
vestigation some one new subject which, as I studied, 1 simulta- 
neously taught to a class of my ablest pupils. Hence every new 
term some new study was introduced ; and in all their studies, my 
pupils were very thoroughly trained. In classing my school for 
the term of study, which was then about three months, I gave to 
each her course, (being careful not to give too much) with the 
certain expectation, that she must be examined on it at the close of 
the term. Then I was wont to consider that my first duty as a 
teacher, required of me that I should labor to make my pupils by 
explanation and illustration understand their subject, and get them 
warmed into it, by makincj them see its beauties and its advantajres. 
During this first part of the process, I talked much more than the 
pupils were required to do, keeping their attention awake by fre- 
quent questions, requiring short answers from the whole class, — 
for it was ever my maxim, if attention fails, the teacher fails. 
Tiien in the second stage of my teaching, I made each scholar re- 
cite, in order that she might remember — paying special attention 
to the meaning of words, and to discern whether the subject was 
indeed understood without mistake. Then the third process was 
to make the pupil capable of communicating J* And doing this in 

* This threefold process, in some studies, as the Philosophy of the Mind, of 
which an entire view should be taken, requires the whole term ; in others, as in 
geography and history, parts may be taken, and the pupils made thorough in each 
as they go along. In mathematics the three steps of the process are to be gone 
through Avith, as the teacher proceeds with every distinct proposition. But still, 
there will, in every well-mstructed chiss, be this three-fold order prevailing, and 



a right manner, was to prepare her for examination. At this time 
I personally examined all my classes. 

This thorough teaching added rapidly to my reputation. Another 
important feature of a system, thus requiring careful drill 
and correct enunciation, was manifested by the examinations. 
The pupils, there acquired character and confidence. Schol- 
ars thus instructed were soon capable of teaching ; and here were 
now forming my future teachers; and some were soon capable 
of aiding me in arranging the new studies, which I was constantly 
enija^ed in introducing. 

Here I began 'a series of improvements in geography — sepa- 
rating and first teaching what could he learned from maps — then 
treating the various subjects of population, extent, length of rivers, 
(fee, by comparing country with country, river with river, and 
city with city, — making out with the assistance of my pupils, those 
tables which afterwards appeared in Woodbridge and Willard's 
Geographies. Here also began improvements in educational his- 
tory. Moral Philosophy came next, with Paley for the author, 
and Miss Flemingway for the first scholar; and then the Philos- 
ophy of the Mind — Locke the author, and the first scholars, Eliza 
Henshaw, Katnarine Battey, and Minerva Shipherd. 

The professors of the college attended my examinations ; although 
I was by the President advised, that it would not be becoming in 
me, nor be a safe precedent, if I should attend theirs. So, as 
I had no teacher in learning my new studies, I had no model in 
teachino;, or examining them. But I had full faith in the clear 
conclusions of my own mind. I knew that nothing could be truer 
than truth ; and hence I fearlessly brought to examination, be- 
fore the learned, the classes, to which had been taught the studies 
I had just acquired. 

I soon began to have invitations to go from Middlebury. Gov. 
VanNess, wishing me to go to Burlington, I opened my views to 
him. The college buildings were then nearly vacant, and some 
steps were taken towards using them for a Female Seminary, of 
which I was to be Principal, but the negotiations failed. In the 
spring of 1818, I had five pupils from Waterford, of the best fam- 
ilies. On looking over the map of the United States, to see where 
would be the best geographical location for the projected institu- 

during the term, requiring a beginning, a middle, and an end; the first of the term 
being mostly devoted to teaching, and the middle to reciting, and the last to ac- 
quiring a correct manner of communicating. 



tion, 1 hai] fixed my mind on t!ie State of New York, and thouglit, 
that the best place would be somewhere in the vicinity of the head 
of navigation on the Hudson. Hence, the coming of the Water- 
ford pupils 1 regarded as an important event. I presented my 
views to Gen. Van Schornhoven, the father (by adoption,) of one 
of my pupils, — wiio was interested, and proposed to show my man- 
uscript to the Hon. J. Cramer, of Waterford, and to De Witt Clin- 
ton, then Governor of New York ; and if they approved it, then 
the "Plan" might go before the legislature with some chance of 
success. Thereupon I copied the manuscript with due regard to 
manner and chirography; having already rewritten it some seven 
times, and thrown out about three quartersof what it first contained — 
then sent it to Gov. Clinton w ith the following letter :* 

To his Excellencij, De Witt Clinton ,— 

Sir, — Mr. Southwick will present to you a manuscript, containing a plan 
for improving the education of females, by instituting public seniinaries for 
their use. Its authoress has presumed to otter it to your Excellency, because 
she believed you would consider the subject as worthy of your attention, and 
because she wished to submit her scheme to those exulted characters, whose 
guide is reason, and whose objects are the happiness and improvement of 
mankind; and among these characters where can plans to promote those 
objects hope for countenance, if not from Mr. Clinton. 

The manuscript is addressed to a legislature, although not intended for 
present publication. The authoress believed she could comi^unicate her ideas 
with less circumlocution in this than in any other manner; and besides, 
should the approbation of distinguished citizens, in any of the larger and 
wealthier states, give hopes that such an application would be attended with 
success, a publication might then be proper, and the manuscript would need 
less alteration. 

Possibly your Excellency may consider this plan as better deserving your 
attention, to Icnow that its authoress is not a visionary enthusiast, who has 
speculated in solitude witiiout practical knowledge of her subject. For ten 
years she has been intimately conversant with female schools, and nearly all 
of that time she has herself been a preceptress. Nor has she written for the 
sake of writing, but merely to communicate a plan of which she fully believes 
that it is practicable ; that, if realized, it would form a new and happy era in 
the history of her sex, and if of her sex, why not of her country, and of man- 
kind? Nor would she shrink from any trial of this faith ; for such is her con- 
viction of the utility of her scheme, that could its execution be forwarded, by 
any exertion or any sacrifice of her own, neither the love of domestic ease, or 
the dread of responsibility, would prevent her embarking her reputation on its 

If Mr. Clinton should not view this plan as its authoress hopes he may, 
but should think the time devoted to its perusal was sacrificed, let him not 
consider its presentation to him as the intrusion of an individual ignorant of 
the worth of his tinie, and the importance of his high avocations, but as the 
enthusiasm of a projector, misjudging of her project, and overrating its value. 

With sentiments of the deepest respect, I am, Sir, 

Your Obedient Servant, 

MiDDLEBDRT, Vt., February 6, 1818. EMMA WILLARD. 

* We would observ-e, at this point, that the chirography of Mrs. Willard's letter, 
a copy of which now lies before us, is exquisitely neat, and boldly distinct. One 
clement in her success, has been, no doubt, her beautiful penmanship, inherited 
from her father and carefully cultivated, as important to her educational object?. 


"This treatise," says Mrs. Willard, " is in reality the founda- 
tion of the Troy seminary. It will not be thought surprising that 
I awaited with intense feeling Gov. Clinton's reply. It came be- 
fore I expected it, expressing his accordance with my views in his 
happiest manner. His message to the legislature soon followed, 
in which, referring to my *'Plan," (though not by its title or author's 
name,) he recommended legislative action in behalf of a cause 
heretofore wholly neglected. The Watcrford gentlemen had 
made Gov. Clinton's opinion their guiding light. They were 
to present my "Plan" to the legislature ; and advised that Dr. 
Willard and myself should spend a few weeks in Albany during 
the session, which we did. The Governor and many of his 
friends called on us ; and I read my manuscript several times by 
special request to different influential members; and once to a 
considerable assemblage. The affair would iiave gone off by ac- 
clamation, could immediate action have been had. As it was, an 
act was passed incorporating the institution at Waterford ; and 
another, to give to female academies a share of the literature 
fund. This law, the first whose sole object was to improve 
female education, is in force, and is the same by which fenjale 
academies in the state now receive public money. 

In the spring of 1819, the removal of the school to Waterford 
was effected, with all the teachers and part of the boarding pupils; 
thus preserving the identity of the school, which had only an or- 
dinary vacation between its close at Middlebury and its com- 
mencement at Waterford. The "Plan," meanwhile, was pub- 
lished under the title of "An Address to the Public, particularly 
to the Legislature of New York, proposing a Plan for Improv- 
ing Female Education." 


This address is introduced by a compact statement of the im- 
portance of a thorough education of women, and an appeal to the 
legislature to found and endow a seminary for their use, since 
this cannot be effected by individual exertion. Then comes the 
declaration of what have ever been Mrs. Willard's views on the 
different duties and destination of the two sexes ; and consequently 
that each should have their different and distinct systems of edu- 
cation ; as follows : 

The idea of a college for males, will naturally be associated with that of 
a seminary, instituted and endowed by the public; and the absurdity of 
sending ladies to college, may, at first thought, strike every one, to whom 
this subject shall be proposed. I therefore hasten to observe, that the scm- 


inary here recommended, will be as different from those appropriated to the 
other sex, as the female character and duties are from the male. The busi- 
ness of the husbandman is not to waste his endeavors in seeking to make his 
orchard attain the strength and majesty of his forest, but to rear each to the 
perfection of its nature. 

That the improvement of female education will be considered by our en- 
lightened citizens as a subject of importance, the liberality with which they 
part with their property to educate their daughters, is a sufficient evidence ; 
and why should they not, when assembled in the legislature, act in concert 
to effect a noble object, which, though dear to them individually, cannot be 
accomplished by their unconnected exertions. 

If tlie improvement of the American female character, and that alone, 
could be effected by public liberality, employed in giving better means of in- 
struction; such improvement of one half of society, and that half which 
barbarous and despotic nations have ever degraded, would of itself be an 
object, worthy of the most liberal government on earth; but if the female 
character be raised, it must inevitably raise that of the other sex ; and thus 
does the plan proposed, offer, as the object of legislative bounty, to elevate 
the whoh; character of the community. 

As evidence that this statement does not exaggerate the female influence 
in society, our sex need but be considered in the single relation of mothers. 
In this character, we have the charge of the whole mass of individuals, who 
are to compose the succeeding generation ; during that period of youth, when 
the pHaut mind takes any direction, to which It is steadily guided by a form- 
ing hand. How important a power is given by this charge ! yet, little do too 
many of my sex know how, either to appreciate or improve it. Unprovided 
■with the means of acquiring that knowledge which flows liberally to the other 
gex, — having our time of education devoted to frivolous acquirements, how 
should we understand the nature of the mind, so as to be aware of the impor- 
tance of those early impressions which we make upon the minds of our chil- 
dren? or how should we be able to form enlarged and correct views, either of 
the character to which we ought to mould them, or of the means most proper 
to form them aright? 

Considered in this point of view, were the interests of male education 
alone to be consulted, that of females becomes of sufficient importance to 
engage the public attention. Would we rear the human plant to its perfec- 
tion, we must first fertilize the soil which produces it. If it acquire its first 
bent and texture upon a barren plain, it will avail comparatively little should 
it be afterwards transplanted to a garden. 

Four topics are next thoroughly discussed — 

1. The defects of the present mode of female education. 

2. The principles by which education should be regulated. 

3. The plan of a female seminary. 

4. The benefits which society would receive from such semi- 

Under the first head the defects of existing schools for women 
are stated to be — 

1. They are temporary institutions formed by individuals, 
whose object is present emolument. 

2. These individuals cannot afford suitable accommodations, 
nor sufficient apparatus and libraries, 6lc. 

3. Neither do they, or can they, provide a sufficiency of instruct- 
ors either in number or capacity. 

4. In such schools a system of classification is not, and cannot 
be carried out. 

Mils. EMMA WILLAliD. 139 

5. It is for the intorest of such scliools to teach showy accom- 
plishments, instead of solid and useful learning. 

G. The teachers are accountable to no particular persons or 
board of trustees, and hence the public are sometimes imposed 
upon by incompetent, unworthy or dishonest individuals. 

7. In these scliools, thus independent of supervision, absurd 
regulations, improper exactions, and unfailiiful negligence, pass 

Under the second head, Mrs. Willard remarks that, — 

Studies and employments should, therefore, be selected from one or both 
of the following considerations ; either because they are peculiarly fitted to 
improve the faculties ; or, because they are such as the pupil will most prob- 
ably have occasion to practise in future life. 

These are the principles on which systems of male education are founded, 
but female education has not yet been systematized. Chance and confusion 
reign here. 

Education should seek to bring its subjects to the perfection of their moral, 
intellectual and physical nature ; in order that they may be of the greatest 
possible use to themselves and others : or, to use a different expression, that 
they may be the means of the greatest possible happiness of which they are 
capable, both as to what they enjoy, and what they communicate. 

Those youth have the surest chance of enjoying and communicating hap- 
piness, who are best qualified, both by internal dispositions and external hab- 
its, to perlbrm with readiness those duties which their future life will most 
probably give them occasion to practise. 

Not only has there been a want of system concerning female education, 
but much of what has been done has proceeded upon mistaken principles. 

One of these is, that without a regard to the different periods of life pro- 
portionate to their importance, the education of females has been too exclu- 
sively directed to fit them for displaying to advantage the charms of youth 
and beauty. Tliough it may be proper to adorn this period of life, yet it is 
incomparably more important to prepare for the serious duties of maturer 
years. Though well to decorate the blossom, it is far better to prepare for 
the harvest. In the vegetable creation nature seems but to sport when she 
embellishes the flower, while all her serious cares are directed to perfect the 

Another error is, that it has been made the first object in educating our 
sex, to prepare them to please the other. But reason and religion teach that 
we too are primary existencies, that it is for us to move in the orbit of our 
duty around the Holy Center of perfection, the companions, not the satelUtes 
of men ; else, instead of shedding around us an influence, that may help to 
keep them in their proper course, we must accompany them in their wildest 

I would not be understood to insinuate that we are not in particular sit- 
uations to yield obedience to the other sex. Submission and obedience be- 
long to every being in the universe, except the great Master of the whole. 
Nor is it a degrading peculiarity to our sex to be under human authority. 
Whenever one class of human beings derive from another the benefits of sup- 
port and protection, they must pay its equivalent, obedience. Thus, while 
we receive these benefits from our parents, we are all, without distinction of 
sex, under their authority ; when we receive them from the government of 
our country, we must obey our rulers ; and when our sex take the obliga- 
tions of marriage, and receive protection and support from the other, it is 
reasonable that we too should yield obedience. Yet is neither the child, nor 
the subject, nor the wife, under human authority, but in subservience to the 
divine. Our highest responsibihty is to God, and our highest intorest is 
to please him ; therefore, to secure this interest, should our education be 


Neither would I be understood to mean, that our sex should not seek to 
make themselves agreeable to the other. The error complained of is, that 
the taste of men, whatever it might happen to be, has been made u standard 
lor the Ibnnatlon of the lemale eharaeter. In whatever we do, it is of the 
utmost importance that the rule by which we work be perfect. For if other- 
wise, what is it but to err upon principle ? A system of education which 
leads one class of human beings to consider the approbation of another as 
their highest object, teaches that the rule of their conduct should be the will 
of beings imperfect and erring like themselves, rather than the will of God, 
which is the only standard of perfection. 

The essentials of a female seminary are stated to be — 

1. A building, with commodious rooms for lodging and reeitti- 
tion, apartments for the reception of apparatus, and for the accom- 
modation of the domestic department. 

2. A library, containing books on the various subjr-cts in which 
the pupils were to receive instruction, musical instruments, some 
good paintings to form the taste and serve as models for the execu- 
tion of those who were to be instructed in that art, maps, globes, 
and a small collection of philosophical apparatus. 

3. A judicious board of trust. 

4. Suitable instruction; first, moral and religious; second, 
literary ; third, domestic ; and fourth, ornamental. 

In this part of the address the importance of education in nat- 
ural, mental, and moral philosophy, is forcibly put. — Of system- 
atic instruction in housewifery, Mrs. Willard says; — 

It is believed that housewifery might be greatly improved by being 
taught, not only in practice, but in theory. Why may it not be reduced to u 
system as well as other arts? There are right ways of performing its various 
operations, and therc are reasons why those ways are right ; and why may 
not rules be formed, their reasons collected, and the whole be digested into a 
system to guide the learner's practice ? 

It is obvious that theory alone can never make a good artist ; and it is 
equally obvious that practice, unaided by theory, can never correct errors, 
but must establish them. If I should perform anything in a wrong manner 
all my life, and teach my children to perform it in the same manner, still, 
through my life and theirs, it would be wrong. Without alteration there can 
be no improvement; but how are we to alter fo as to improve, if we are ig- 
norant of the principles of our art, with which we should compare our prac- 
tice, and by which we should regidate it? 

4. The Orxamkntal branches, which I should recommend for a female 
seminary, are drawing and painting, elegant penmanship, music, and the 
grace of motion. Needle-work is not here mentioned. The best style -of 
useful needle-work should either be taught in the domestic department, or 
made a qualification for entrance. 

Under this head we call the attention of parents to the following 
admirable statement in regard to the fine arts : — 

"It lias been doubted, whether painting and music should be taught to young 
ladies, because much time is requisite to bring them to anv considerable de- 
gree of perfection, and they are not ijnmediately useful. Though these ob- 
jections have weight, vet they are founded on too limited a view of the 
objects of education. They leave out the important consideration of forming 



the character. I should not consider it an essential point, that the music of 
a lady's piano should rival that of her master's ; or that her drawing room 
should be decorated with her own paintings, rather than those of others; but 
it is the intrinsic advantage, which she might derive from the refinement of 
herself, that would induce me to recommend to her, an attention to these 
elegant pursuits. The harmony of sound, has a tendency to produce a cor- 
respondent harmony of soul ; and that art, which obliges us to study nature, 
in order to imitate her, often enkindles the latent spark of taste — of sensibil- 
ity for her beauties, till it glows to adoration for their author, and a refined 
love of all his works. 

5. There would be needed, for a female, as well as for a male seminary, a 
system of laws and regulations, so arranged, that both the instructors and 
pupils would know their duty ; and thus, the Avhole business, move with regu- 
larity and uniformity. 

The direct rewards or honors, used to stimulate the ambition of students 
in colleges, are first, the certificate or diploma, which eacli receives, who 
passes successfully through the term allotted to his collegiate studies ; and 
secondly, the appointments to perform certain parts in public exhibitions, 
which are bestowed by the faculty, as rewards for superior scholarship. The 
first of these modes is admissible into a female seminary ; the second is not ; 
as public speaking forms no part of female education. The want of this 
mode, might, however, be supplied by examinations judiciously conducted. 
The leisure and inclination of both instructors and scholars, would combine 
to produce a thorough preparation for these ; for neither would have any 
other public test of the success of their labors. Persons of both sexes would 
attend. The less entertaining parts, might be enlivened by interludes, where 
the pupils in painting and music, would display their several improvements. 
Such examinations, W'Ould stimulate the instructors to give their scholars 
more attention, by which the leading facts .and principles of their studies, 
would be more clearly understood, and better remembered. The ambition 
excited among the pupils, would operate, -without placing the instructors un- 
der the necessity of making distinctions among them, which are so apt to be 
considered as invidious ; and which are, in our male seminaries, such fruitful 
sources of disaffection. 

When Mrs. Willard introduced the following views on woman s 
mission as teacher, we are told that they were regarded with no 
small surprize. Now, that they have been so far wrought out, 
they may seem common place, — but always just. 

Such seminaries would constitute a grade of public education, superior to 
any yet known in the history of our sex ; and through them the lower grades 
of female instruction might be controlled. The influence of public semina- 
ries, over these, would operate in two ways ; first, by requiring certain quali- 
fications for entrance ; and secondly, by furnishing instructresses, initiated in 
their modes of teaching, and imbued with their maxims. 

Female seminaries might be expected to have important and happy effects, 
on common schools in general ; and in the manner of operating on these, 
would probably place the business of teaching children, in hands now nearly 
useless to society ; and take it from those, whose services the state wants in 
many other ways. 

That nature designed for our sex the care of children, she has made mani- 
fest, by mental as well as physical indications. She has given us, in a greater 
degree than men, the gentle arts of insinuation, to soften their minds, and fit 
them to receive impressions ; a greater quickness of invention to vary modes 
of teaching to different dispositions ; and more patience to make repeated 
efforts. There are many females of ability, to whom the business of instruct- 
ing children is highly acceptable ; and wdio would devote all their faculties to 
their occupation. They would have no higher pecuniary object to engage 
their attention, and their reputation as instructors they Avould consider as im- 
portant ; whereas, when able and enterprizing men, engage in this business, 



they too often consider it, merely as a tomporai'y employment, to further 
sojne other object, to the attaiuinent of which, their best thoughts and cal- 
culation.^ are all directed. It' then women were properly fitted by instruction, 
tliey would be likely to teach children better than the other sex ; they could 
afford to do it cheaper ; and those men who would otherwise be engaged in 
this employment, might be at liberty to add to the wealth of the nation, by 
any of those thousand occupations, from which women are necessarily de- 

Any one, who has turned his attention to this subject, must be aware, that 
there is great room for impro ement in the common schools, — both as to the 
mode of teaching, and the things taught ; and what method could be devised 
80 likely to elfect this improvement, as to prepare by instruction, a class of 
individuals, whose interest, leisure, and natural talents, would combine to 
make them pursue it with ardor." 

This passage shows the wide scope of Mrs. Willard's desires, 
to promote improvement by education ; and it foreshadows the part 
she afterwards took in working out her favorite problem, that chil- 
dren's education is the business of women. 

Our design, is next to show by what means she established a 
Female Seminary according to "The Plan." 


In the winter of 1819, as we have seen, that the " Plan," of 
which an abstract has just been given, was presented to the mem- 
bers of the Legislature of New York. 

They manifested their approbation by an act of incorporation 
of the school at VVaterford, placing it on the list of academies, 
and granting it a share of the literature fund ; and on a petition, 
further to encourage the projected improvement, the committee to 
whom it was referred, reported in its favor the sum of 8"3,090. 
But this was so near the close of the session, that the bill failed to 
pass. Yet so strong were the hopes of the petitioners, from the 
favorable indications of the past year, that the removal from Mid- 
dlebury was made in the spring. A large house was rented for 
two years, and the school was enlarged — in its number of teachers, 
in its scope and expense. That venerable divine, the Rev. Sam- 
uel Blachford, was president of the trustees. 

In May, 1821, Dr. and Mrs. Willard (the lease of their buildings 
at Waterford having expired,) accepted a proposal to remove the 
school to Troy ; the corporation stipulating to provide for its ac- 
commodation, the building, which was the beginning of the one it 
now occupies. The expense of this part of the building, and the 
ground on which it stands, was $5,865; of this sum the common- 
council contributed 84,000, and the balance was loaned by indi- 
viduals. They also appropriated to the use of the school, a plat of 
ground valued at over $2,000 ; on all which an annual rent of $400 


was paid. This rent, as it accrued, was expended under tiic di- 
rection of the able men who became the trustees of t!ie seminary — 
and to wiiom it is much indebted — in the payment of the loan, 
and in repairs of tiie building. This was the line of policy after- 
wards pursued.* As fast as rent became due, it was taken, and 
sometimes it was anticipated, to add to the convenience, and value 
of the premises occupied, and when they were thus enlarged, the 
rent was increased. The fathers of Troy were men of high bus- 
iness capacity, and they gave Mrs. Willard great credit for that 
element of her character; but generally, they did not much sympa- 
thize with her enthusiasm in the cause of her sex. Perhaps they 
did not believe in it, but erroneously thought if her school gave 
her fame, and brought her money, she would be satisfied ; which 
the business prosperity of the place, and the cordial good will 
which always existed between them and her, induced them to wish 
she might be ; and inclined them to do from time to time as much as 
might be necessary to that object. Some generous spirits there 
were, however, who appreciated her motives, believed in her work, 
and aided her in the spirit of her calling. On no occasion was 
she ever backward to declare her true objects, and to say, that 
not for wealth or fame, or any selfish advantage, would she thus 
enslave herself. Indeed her powers could not, for such objects, 
be brought into such intense action. If the people of Troy would 
aid her in forming a permanent institution, she could labor among 
them, and with faith, — but not otherwise. 

In 1820, the second year of Mrs. Willard's residence in Water- 
ford, Gov. Clinton, ever true to his pledges and bis convictions, 
recommended, in his message to the legislature, the infant institu- 
tion in the following language : " While on this important subject 
of instruction, I cannot omit to call your attention to the Academy 
for Female Education, which was incorporated last session, at 
Waterford, and which, under the superintendence of distinguished 
teachers, has already attained great usefulness and prosperity. As 
this is the only attempt, ever made in this country, to promote the 
education of the female sex by the patronage of government ; as 
our first and our best impressions are derived from maternal affec- 

* A rage now prevails, of making for education, great and expensive 
buildings, without much regard to convenience. Mrs. Willard was moderate. She 
told the trustees, on her arrival at Troy, "I want you to make me a building 
which will suit my trade; and then I will not complain provided yon finish it so 
that we do not get slivers into our fingers, from rough boards. I expect the life 
of the school will be in the inside, and not on the out ; and when the school wants 
to grow, you must enlarge its shell." 

- ^^ Mils. EMMA WILLARD. 

tion ; and as tlio elevation of the female character ii inseparably 
connected with happiness at home, and respectability abroad, I 
trust that you will not be deterred by common-place ridicule, from 
extending your munificence to this meritorious institution." 

A bill passed the Senate, granting $2,000, but failed in the 
House. More than this, the Regents of the University decided 
that no part of the literature fund could go to the school. This 
was the more trying, because its expenses, at its outset, were ex- 
ceeding its income to an alarming degree. Dr. and Mrs. Willard 
were disappointed, but not discouraged. The "Plan" circulated 
in different parts of the Union, and every where met the approba- 
tion of the wise and the good.* It was also widely circulated in 
Europe. George Combe, at the height of his fame, published it 
entire in his Phrenological Journal, and Dr. Dick and others, ap- 
proved and quoted it. The elder Joiin Adams, Thomas Jefferson, 
and other distinguished men, expressed their interest in kind and 
flattering letters to Mrs. Willard ; "while among those who advo- 
cated the claims of the institution before the legislature, appear 
the names of Livingston, Plummer, Van Buren, Spencer, Sharpe, 
Ullshoeffer, Powell, Irving and Williams. 

In 1921, ti;e trustees of the Academy at Waterford, again peti- 
tioned for funds, but in vain ; in consequence perhaps of the fact 
that Gov. Clinton's name was approvingly put forward in the pe- 
tition, which led some members, in their political animosity, to 
oppose it. 

Therefore, in January, 1823, Dr. and Mrs. Willard presented 
a second earnest memorial to the legislature for endowment, giv. 
ing a brief history of the rise and progress of the institution, from 
its birth at Middlebury, to its maturity at Troy. This memorial 
again brought the seminary before the public, — its statements aid in 
understanding its history; — otherwise it was of no avail. Its final 
rejection was one of the severest trials of Mrs. Willard's life. 
Her sense of the moral importance of the subject, her fear of 
financial disaster and personal disgrace in case of failure, her 

* The present Judge Campbell, of the U. S. Supreme Court, remembers, says 
Mrs. Willard, that when his father, the eminent Duncan Campbell, of Georgia, 
was a member of the State Legislature, he accidentally found a copy of the 
" Plan " in his office, left there by his clerk, Elijah Burritt, of Connecticut. He 
■was so struck by its justice, and his mind so enkindled by its enthusiasm, that 
he forthwith presented, and successfully advocated its principles in the legislature 
of Georgia; in which state a female college has been made. It was, however, 
placed solely under male superintendence, Avhich greatly man-ed its usefulness. 


sanguine hopes of success, and her zeal hi the cause — all served 
to render rejection an evil almost too heavy to be borne. 

Mrs. VVillard once wrote about her experience in the following 
words : — * 

To have had it decently rejected, would have given me comparatively 
little pain, but its consideration was delayed and delayed, till tinally the ses- 
sion passed away. The malice of open enemies, the advice of false friends, 
and the neglect of others, placed me in a situation, mortifyiiig in tlie extreme. 
I felt it aln)0st to phrenzy, — and even now, though the dream is long past, I 
cannot recall it without agitation. Could I have died a martyr in the cause, 
and thus ensured its success, I could have blessed the faggot and hugged the 
stake. Once I had almost determined to seek permission to go in person be- 
fore the legislature, and plead at their bar with the living voice, believing 
that I could throw forth my whole soul in the eflbrt for my sex, and then 
sink down and die ; and thus my death might effect what my life had failed 
to accomplish. Had the legislature been composed of such men as filled my 
fancy when I wrote my " Plan," I could have thus hoped in pleading publicly 
for woman. Yet had such been its character, I should have had no necessity. 

It was by the loss of respect for others, that I gained tranquility for myself. 
Once I was fond of speaking of the legislature as the ' fathers of the state.' 
Perhaps a vision of a Roman Senate played about my fancy, and mingled 
with the enthusiastic respect in which I hold the institutions of my country. 
I knew nothing of the maneuvres of politicians. That winter served to dis- 
enchant me. My present impression is that my cause is better rested with 
the people than with their rulers. I do not regret bringing it before the legis- 
lature, because in no other way could it have come so fairly before the public. 
But when the people shall have become convinced of the justice and expe- 
diency of placing the sexes more nearly on an equality, with respect to pri- 
vileges of education, then legislators will find it their interest to make the 
proper provision. 


Mrs. Willard, by common consent, now receives the title of 
"the Founder of the Troy Seminary." But even with her hope- 
ful temperament, she did not believe when she wrote the "Plan," 
that such a school as she there contemplated, could (as expressed 
in the first paragraph.) by any possibility, be made by individual 
exertion. And for its benefits becoming extended, she relied 
mainly on its excellencies being observed by those who became 
acquainted with its character and its- happy effects upon its pupils. 
Whoever will take the pains to examine the "Plan" in com- 
parison with the Troy seminary as it exists at this day, will see 
that it presents advantages for a complete education for "women, 
far superior to those therein contemplated;* and the educational 
history of the times will show that by means then untiiought of, its 

* The present condition of the Troy seminary comprises the many improve- 
ments made by the present principals, Mr. and Mrs. John H. Willard, as well as 
those inaugurated by Mrs. Willard, who thinks they should be regarded as joint 
founders of the institution. 


modes of teaching and principles of action, took a spread,* rapid 
beyond any conception which she at that time formed. Those 
things show the agency of a favorable Providence working with 
her to accomplish its own designs. 

When in the spring of 1821, Mrs. Willard left her incorporated 
academy at Waterford, and removed to Troy, disappointed in one 
effort to obtain legislative patronage, but fondly clinging to the 
hope of what another might produce, what were the wants, which, 
in founding an institution, were there to be met? They were, 
first, a suitable building. The means to begin this were now, as 
we have seen, provided by the corporation of Troy,! — a corps of 
efficient teachers, which M'ere already partly prepared by the 
previous training of Mrs. Willard at Middlebury and at Water- 
ford, and imbued with her peculiar methods and maxims. And 
her first teachers at Troy, except for music, painting, and the lan- 
guages, and for several years after her residence there, were 
taught personally by herself, and afterwards by those she in- 
structed. It would have cost thousands to have provided an equal 
number of educated men to teach the branches taught in the sem- 
inary; nor would they have reached minds so liitle prepared for 
these studies, as could these teachers who had learned the meth- 
ods by wliich Mrs. Willard had reached their own when they also 
were in the same measure unprepared. After removal to Troy, 
the process for the first years went on, of ne*" studies learned and 
taught at the same time. 

And here we advert to what Mrs. Willard recrards as a leading 
epoch in female education, — the introduction of the study of the 
higher mathematics. She recjards it as having more than any 
one thing been the cause of that stronger intellectual power by 
which the American women have now shown themselves capable 
of teaching, not only high subjects in the schools, but of investi- 
gating new ones, and of managing high schools, as well as those 
for children. And it may be remarked here, that all Mrs. Wil- 

* Others were working in the field; let their biographies be written, that they 
also have credit for what they did. 

t Mrs. Willard, during her connection with the Troy seminary, never received 
a cent of public money. In 1837, a portion of the literature fund was first paid 
to the seminar^'. By her repeated solicitations, the corporation of Troy then 
gave to the trustees sufficient of the seminary property to entitle it to go under 
the authority of the regents. But she gave the money to the trustees. She could 
then do without it. Like Columbus, she could wear the chains to the end of the 

MRS. ZiniA WlLLAftD. 147 

lard liad foreseen and expressed in lier "Plan" of the advantages 
of a superior education given to women, as putting tlie business 
of teaching common schools into their hands, is already either 
accomplished or going on to its full completion — a justice to them 
and a blessing to the community. 

What otiiers may have done, Mrs. Willard knows not. She 
knows that in an enthusiasm for drawing she sought to learn per- 
spective, and finding she could not without geometry, siie com- 
menced that study, then being in Middlebury. She said one 
evening to her husband's nephew, a senior of high standing in 
college, "John, I am studying geometry. I have gone through 
twenty-nine propositions of the first book of Euclid. I am 
delighted with the study, and I see no insurmountable difficulties; 
but I wish you would take the book and see whether I understand 
it as you do." The book was looked over, some of the more diffi- 
cult points discussed, and the learner pronounced correct. And 
afterwards, while at Waterford, she received some three or 
four lessons in algebra ; but on her teacher confessing that he 
never could understand why minus into minus produced plus, she 
encountered that knotty point by herself, and proceeded in the 
study without further assistance. She does not recollect tliat 
otherwise she had any outside help in her course of mathematics. 
In this independent manner she learned and afterwaids taught 
(one class at a time,) through Euclid, including trigonometry, — 
Day's Algebra, conic sections, and Enfield's Institutes of Natural 

In teaching these studies, which she commenced by geometry at 
Waterford,f she considered it fair to take every measure possible 
to make the pupil understand. J In plain geometry, she cut paper 
triangles with her scissors ; and in solids, made havoc with her 

* When these acquirements are considered, and how they were made, it would 
not be strange if tliey bore some remai'kable fruits. Such is Mrs, Willard's 
astronomy, or astronography, written when past her sixtieth year, containing an 
original scheme of educational astronomy, and a new theory of the tides. 

t Miss Cramer, the daughter of Hon. John Cramer, was the first pupil. Her 
examination in geometry caused a wonderful excitement. Some said it Avas all 
a work of meiuory, for no woman ever did, or could, understand geometry. 

X When, in 1854, Jlrs. Willai'd was in London, attending the world's educa- 
tional convention. Dr. Whewell, in the opening lecture, gave her unich pleasure 
by upholding the principles upon which, regardless of sneers, she had practiced. 
The Dr. mamtained that whatever produced in the mind conviction, was to be 
regarded as just proof of truth, illustrating by laying over an inclined plane an 
iron chain, which showed that as much shorter as the perpendicular side is than 
the inclined, so much may the i^owcr be less than the weight. 


penknife, of the family stores of potatoes and turnips. Observing 
that the natural rapidity of thought should not at first, in the com- 
parison of triangles, be retarded to recognize the three letters 
of eacb angle, she drew in each answering angle of the two 
correspondent triangles, three different marks, as a large dot, 
a cross, and a little circle. Tins enabled the learner to under- 
stand by a glance of the eye, what equalities she was to prove, and 
this aided her memory, that her mind might, unembarrassed, make 
the first steps in developing the logical faculty. And then in ex- 
plaining the figure, she taught an intelligent movement of the 
pointer, with only the accompanying words, "this equals this," 
&c., instead of mentioning a great array of letters. When the 
proposition was understood, the letters of the author were used ; 
or any other letters or figures taken, without confusing the mind 
of the learner. Thus she went through with her first duty to her 
pupils, to make them understand ; in this part of the process talk- 
ing much herself, but telling her pupils it would soon be their 
turn. After this, they were by repetition to have the study fixed 
in the mind, and then to learn a correct and elegant manner of 
connnunicating, and that constituted the special preparation for 

This mathematical course of learning and teaching, was not 
interrupted by the removal to Troy, but went on until all the 
mathematical studies enumerated were introduced in the manner 
already stated, Mrs. Willard first studying them one after an- 
other, arranging the mode of teaching, and then giving that por- 
tion over to some of her pupils to teach, while she went on with 
others. She thus began studying algebra at Waterford, and con- 
tinued the study at Troy, taking with her a fine class of young 
ladies from wealthy and fashionable families, some of whom so 
sympathised with her enthusiasm, that four young ladies, by con- 
sent of their parents, aided her during one season, by performing 
the duty of regular teachers of classes.* But as they passed 
away, their places were filled by those who were pleased to remain 
as permanent teachers. Mrs. Willard's first mathematical teach- 
ers have proved themselves women of great ability. One is her 

* For this important service they would accept no reward, except each a copy 
of ^Irs. Willard's miniature. The time of her studying her daily algebraic lesson, 
"wa^, while she was getting air and exercise walking the streets of Troy in the 
d.iwn of the morning, before the people of business were astir. She recollects of 
th\i fine class, that one or two of them having more time, occasionally got ahead of 
lier in the sohition of a problem. 




When Mrs. Willard liad taught through Enfield's Institutes of 
Natural Philosophy, which she found for herself a harder task than 
she made it for her pupils, having introduced steps of reasoning 
which the author had left out, and figures of illustration which he 
had not put in, — she thought she had gone far enough for women in 
the direction of mathemalics ; though strongly tempted to add to 
the course, descriptive geometry.* 

While thus settling and introducing into the seminary her course 
of mathematics, Mrs. Willard was at the same time equally 
earnest in prosecuting other improvements. 

In the two kindred departments of geography and history, she 
thus in the preface of her " Guide to the Temple of Time,*' 
explains her progress: 

""When, in 1814, I commenced in Middlebury, Vermont, the pcliool whicli 
by enlargement and removal became, in 1821, the Troy Female Seminary, tho 
subjects of Geography and History were difhcult of instruction ; the books 
of Geography being closely confined to the order of place, and those of Hi.s- 
tory, as closely to that of time; by which much repetition was made ne- 
cessary, and comprehensive views of topics, by comparison and classification, 
were debarred. In Geography, the eye was not made the sole, or the chief 
medium of teaching the signs of external things, as the forms, proportion, 
and situation of countries, rivers, &c., for though maps existed, yet they 
were not required to be used; but the boundary was learned by the words of 
the book, and the latitude by numbers there set down — as historical dates are 
now commonly learned. Numbers thus presented, are hard to acquire, diffi- 
cult to remember, and, standing by theniselves, of little value when remem- 

Of the two subjects, although connected, yet Geography lay most directly in 
my way ; as this, all my pupils studied ; and it was less difficult to manage ; ibr 
maps already existed. (The Temple of Time, I regard as a Map of History.) 
Geography, then, I dissected, and remodeled, according to those laws of 
mind concerned in acquiring and retaining knowledge. I divided it into two 
parts : first, that which could be acquired from maps ; and second, that which 
could not; — and for the first, giving my pupils to study nothing but maps and 
questions on maps. In the remaining part of the science, being no longer 
bound to any order of place, for no confusion of mind could arise concern- 
ing locations after these had been first learned from maps, I was free to ex- 
patiate by topics, and give general comparative views, of population, altitude 
of mountains, length of rivets, &c. ; and philosophic or general views could 
now be given of government, religion, commerce, manufactures, and produc- 
tions, f Thus, since teaching Time by my Map, The Temple of Time, I have 

* After becoming acquainted with the teaching and discipline at "West Point, 
she was presented by Capt. Douglass with the original work of "Monge on Descrip- 
tive Geometry," and she received some teaching from a distinguished graduate, 
now Dr. Ingalls. A small class of young ladies at the Troy seminary are now 
pursuing this beautiful study. 

t " I suppose myself to have been earlier in this division, than any person in Eu- 
rope or America. Malte Brun, of France, had similar views, but they were later 
than my method of teaching, practised in my school in Middlebury. " Of my im- 
pi-oved' method of teacliing there, there are' living witnesses, both of those who 
were my pupils and mv teachers. Concerning what had been done in Ger- 
many and Switzerland, Mr. Woodbridge, who had traveled in those countries, 
and \vas the personal friend of Humboldt and other geographers, would have 
known ; and he as well as mj^self, believed that we were unitedly presenting, in 
our joint names, in 1821, an originiU plan of teaching geography."' 

]50 MRS. EmiX -^TILLARD. 

boon ablo, .as in this little book, to range freely by general subjects, without 
fear of the pupils losing themselves with regard to liistoric time. 

The method described, of teaching geography, is now fully established ; and 
has been for the last twenty-five years. The drawing of maps on the black- 
board, adds clearness and strength to the mind's picture ; but the arrange- 
ment of the subject remains the same. The true method once found, chan- 
ges are deteriorations. Books for reference, and those for the general reader, 
are wanted as before. 

These changes in educational Geography led to some corresponding im- 
provements in History. I devised the plan of a series of maps answering to 
the epochs into which that subject should be divided. This method was first 
described in 1822, in my "Ancient Geography;" and directions and names of 
places there given to enable the pupil to make for himself a set of maps cor- 
responding to the principal epochs of ancient history. 

I adapted this to American History as early as 18'21 ; and it was the great 
commendation which it received, as exhibited in the examinations ot" my 
classes, and the constant requests that I would give it to the public, which 
first led me to writing the History of the United States. When my earliest 
''Republic of America" was brought forward, it was accompanied with an 
Atlas, containing the first series of Historic Maps ever published in this coun- 
try. This was no inconsiderable step. I then applied the plan, as far as pos- 
sible, to Universal History. 

But I was not fully satisfied. There was as yet nothing so suitable to fix 
liistoric time in the mind, as maps are, that of Geographic place. The old 
Stream of Time, and Priestly's method of exhibiting nations in a chart, were 
of value ; but both difficult to remember, and witliout marks to distinguish 
the centuries, as more or less distant. The thought then occurred of putting 
the Stream of Time into perspective, and adding light and shade, to give some 
idea of the civilization of the several countries. This followed out, produced 
the chart herein contained, which was published in 1836 or 37, in the first 
edition of my Universal History. My next step, was tlic invention of the 
Historic Tree, connected with my late works on American History. But the 
Chart containing the Perspective View of Nations seemed not fully under- 
stood. It was but as their pathway beneath the Temple of History, and its 
perspective character was not apprehended. The idea then arose in my mind, 
of actually erecting over this floor-work an imaginary Temple of Time, which 
would give the needed measure of centuries by pillars ; and on these, and on 
the interior of the roof, would make places strictly according to time for the 
names of those great men who are to history, as cities are to geogi'aphy, its 
luminous points. This, with great labor and much study, was accomplished 
four years ago. When this map of time was completed, I was then satisfied 
that my thirty years' work was done. The goal, to which, step by step, I 
had been approaching, was at length reached. 

This extract shows the persevering teaacity of Mrs. Willard's 
mind, which could thus for years grasp and hold her subjects — 
until she liad accomplished her designs; and also the manner in 
which her teaching brought forth her school books, — and they in 
turn aided her teaching. 

For this invention of time-maps, Mrs. Willard holds a medal, and 
a certificate, signed by Prince Albert, given by a jury of nations, 
at the World's Fair, held in London, 1851. She presented not 
only her Temple of Time, but her Chronographer of Ancient 
History — made on the same principles — and also that of English 
History. The medal was not given on the execution of the Charts, 
for that was indifferent ; but it was doubtless the verdict of the 
jury, that a new and a true method had been found. 


While thus Mrs. Willard was teaching what had lieretofore 
been considered masculine studies, and tlius risking the displeasure 
of those wealthy and fashionable people, on whom, disappointed 
of public aid, she much depended for support; she was also testing 
her popularity by the steps she was taking, to induct her pupils into 
the duties of their sex, in regard to housekeeping ; as tiiis might be 
charged with a degree of vulgarity.* 

As a balance to those possible causes of unpopularity, Mrs. Wil- 
lard ever bcrldly taught — rare in those days — the principles of 
esthetics, as regards the sex ; and made, at the same time, the 
most of her own personal advantages, and social standing. She 
ever regarded esthetics "as the special province of women ; and 
taught, from the mulberry grove onward, that it is every wo- 
man's duty to be as beautiful as God had given her the power ; 
not for vanity, but to increase her influence, that she might glorify 
her Maker the better, and the more please her friends, and serve 
those to whom she would do good. Beauty in woman is a 
source of power. It is more an affair of cultivation, than had 
been supposed. Whatever promotes healtli, promotes beauty of 
complexion, and is cultivated by air, exercise, bathing, suitable 
diet, and regular hours of sleep. Proper positions and graceful 
movements, can, by attention, be acquired. The perfection of 
dress, especially for the young, is not fashionable extravagance, 
but elegant simplicity. Then the highest of all sublunary beauty, 
is beauty of expression ; and that is the gleaming forth upon the 
countenance of what is good within — holy and amiable sensibili- 
ties, mingled with intelligence and truth. 



In May, 1825, Mrs. Willard and the institution met a heavy loss 
in the death of Dr. Willard. His last illness was long and pain- 

* In genera], when the graduates of the seminary develop into women of so- 
ciety and mistresses of families, they have been found imbued with the principles, 
and having acquired the habits, which lead to good housekeeping. The pupils in 
their small rooms, each occupied by two inmates, (carefully assorted, as one of 
the most delicate duties of the principal,) are provided with closets, bureaus, 
&c., so that everytiiing can be used for its proper purpose, and everything kept in its 
proper place. And they are under a strict sui'veillance, as each in turn is to keep 
the room in pei-fect order. This is that their eye may become accustomed to or- 
der, so as, of itself, to detect the reverse. They are required to keep in order 
their own clothing, and have a set time for mending. They took their turns also 
with the domestic superintendent, to learn pastry cooking. Each room-mate is 
in turn, room keeper for the week, and liable to a fault-mai'k if tlie mouitress, iu 
her hourly rounds, during school hours, finds any thing out of order. 

152 ^^'S. EMMA WILLARD. 

ful. Ills wife's presence and care were essential to his comfort, 
and for the uninterrupted days and nigJits of three months sli.e was 
his constant nurse. 

Up to the time of his sickness, he had been the beloved physician 
of the seminary, the head of the family, and the sole manager of 
its pecuniary affairs. How much he did to sustain Mrs. VVillard 
in the work she had undertaken, may be seen in the following 
extract from a letter written by her soon after his death: "The 
pupils I have educated are now my teachers. Thdy, better than 
men, understand my views, and they cheerfully yield themselves 
to my influence. But the school has met with an irreparable loss 
in the death of Dr. Willard, my husband. He entered into the 
full spirit of my views, with a disinterested zeal for that sex. 
whom, as he believed, his own had injuriously neglected. With 
an affection more generous and disinterested than ever man before 
felt, he, in his later life, sought my elevation, indifftM-ent to his 
own. Possessing, on the whole, an opinion more favorable of me 
than any other human being ever will have, — and thus encouraging 
me to dare much, he yet knew my weaknesses, and fortified me 
against them. But my feelings are leading me from my subject, 
and 1 have no claim to intrude my private griefs on you." 

From tlic grave of her husband, bowed in spirit, and emaciated 
in form, Mrs. Willard returned to her work, to find it increased 
by new burdens. She loved not money for money's sake, but she 
knew it was the sinews of success. Determined to understand 
her own business, she did not take again her hours of teaching, 
until she had first planted herself at her office-desk, and, for a 
time, not only superintended, but kept her own books. She now 
made a new and more convenient arrangement of the school year, 
dividing it into two annual terms, instead of three. In other ways 
she systematized and simplified her school-keeping, as connected 
with her financial concerns. Twice a year, every debt she owed 
was paid. 

The question will here occur : how were the means to sustain the 
institution, and to procure its constantly increasing facilities, com- 
manded ? We answer: from the great and extensive popularity 
to which Mrs. Willard's teaching, and her school-books,* had 
attained. Scholars flowed in from every part of the Union, and 
some from Canada and the West Indies. 

* The geographies had an almast unparalleled success on their first issue; but 
afterwards, the authors were shot, by arrows winged with their own feathers. 


Wc inquire next : what were the unexpected means by which 
Mrs. .Wilhird's school becanne regarded as a nnodel school, — its 
fame and influence rapidly extending far beyond any concep- 
tion made while forming its original "Plan?'' This was effected 
by examinations of the school, private and public ; by the circu- 
lation of the " Plan," and the approbation it met from high 
authorities, and chiefly from a source not thought of when that was 
written: the normal training of teachers, and the great demand 
for their services, so that they were soon spread to the remotest 
parts of the Union. 

This system was but the continuation of the same general efforts 
for all her pupils, by which all of suflicicnt ability learned to 
understand, remember and communicate : and without its beinjr 
regarded as an object to learn to teach, this process was in reality 
fitting every one of the good pupils to become choice teachers. 
Many, who never in youth thought of tfeaching, have taken it 
up as a resource in later life, and pursued it with success. 

The receiving of girls expressly for education as teachers was 
at first accidental ; — begun in a case, where orphans, left desti- 
tute, pined for education; and while their pledge was given that 
they would pay by teaching as soon as they were fitted, it was 
taken rather as quieting delicate minds, than with any real expect- 
ation on the part of Mrs. Willard, — so long seemed the time, and 
so many the chances of failure, — that she should ever receive 
remuneration. Yet in these cases, she was eventually repaid ; 
and seeing that thus she was carrying out her object for tlie estab- 
lishment and the spread of female education, and at the same time 
helping those she loved, she went on willingly in this direction, 
far beyond the limits of mere worldly prudence.* 

But to be capable of teaching is not all that is necessary to the 
school- mistress. She must govern as well as teach, and there is 

* Mrs. Willard's practice of educating teachers, when it became enlarged and 
systematized, embraced, in theor}', a self-supporting scheme. To those young 
ladies who had not the means of meeting their expenses, either in part or in 
whole, she furnished at her regular prices, tuition, board, and, in some cases, an 
outfit of clothing and traveling expenses ; and, at the end of the course, they gave 
a note which was to be met out of their first earnings. But the pupil was 
allowed a moderate sum for her wardrobe. These notes were, however, fre- 
quently collected v/ithout interest, — often canceled for less than their first 
value, — sometimes, when misfortune pressed, relinquished in full, and sometimes 
lost through extravagance, carelessness, or inefficiency. Those who paid most 
promptly were the most grateful. Some of them are among the most distin- 
guished women of the country. Filial in their feelings towards their benefac- 
tress, Mrs. Willard may well regard them as her glory and crown of rejoicing. 


a democratic feature in the government of the Troy seminary, by 
which all the good and faithful pupils, taking part in the school 
administration, become fitted to govern others with dignity. The 
ofTicer of the day is taken in rotation from the older scholars. Her 
office is grave and important, and constitutes one of the most pecu- 
liar features of the Troy seminary; and none gave in its estab- 
lishment a more severe test of address and perseverance, on the 
part of the principal. 

Tile teacliers of the seminary she assembled in "Teachers' 
Meeting" on Friday evening, not only to receive reports of their 
classes, but to debate the standing questions : what can we do to 
promote the good of the school — what law make— or what un- 
make? — when Mrs. Willard proposed to them to establish this 
day-officer or monitress, to be considered during the day an officer 
of the institution, and to visit every room once an hour and mark 
delinquents — the teachers declared against it, saying, as many 
others did, it would be useless to attempt it, — pupils could never 
be brought to mark their companions. But Mrs. Willard, count- 
ing on her influence, and taking great pains previously to instruct 
her sciiolars on the special nature of official duty, began tlie sys- 
tem, and carried it through ; establishing honors, and privileges to 
the faithful monitress, and making the unfaithful take the fault- 
mark, (or what was the same, lose one of her own credits,) for 
any offense knowingly passed unmarked. The system remains 
in the seminary to this time ; though now the duties of the day 
require two successive monitors. To be efficient and faitliful in 
this office, is to stand high in the school. To be capable of per- 
forming it well, is to be fitted to govern in a school or a family. 
The success of the teachers who go from the seminary, is in no 
small degree attributable to this discipline, as officer of the day at 

Mrs. Willard, when she wrote the "Plan," did not at all contem- 
plate the special training of teachers ; and she never turned aside to 
accommodate the school to them, but rather the reverse. With a 
pupil-teacher of advancement and improved character, she would 
place in the same room, a petted, self-willed Miss of wealthy 
parents. This was an advantage to both parties — for while the 
teacher-scholar was aiding Mrs. Willard in a difficult and delicate 
duty, she was brought more into contact and conversation with her 
principal, by whom it was her special business to profit ; and on 
the management of difficult pupils — the most critical portion of the 
business she was to learn. 


The labor of the system and responsibilities of its founder, few 
can appreciate. Besides the financial risk incurred by the intro- 
duction of so many non-paying pupils into a school, whose pres- 
ence required additional teachers, room, table expenses, &c., the 
care of providing places for them, after graduation, was immense. 
Watchfulness over them never ceased. Moreover, the system was 
so popular, that applications for instruction were quite beyond the 
capacity of the institution. Imploring letters, sad tales of misfor- 
tune, and urgent appeals for special favor, were an incessant tax 
upon the benevolent sympathies of the principal. During the 
fourteen months, previous to her leaving the institution, the 
letters in this department alone, amounted to five hundred, which 
had all to be read and answered, requiring, of course, the assist- 
ance of a secretary. 

It was always Mrs. Willard's design to limit the number of 
teacher-scholars, so that the institution would not incur financial 
disaster by carrying too heavy a burden. And since normal 
schools, distinctively established and endowed, have removed the 
necessity of pursuing the system at the seminary, it has been for 
the most part abandoned ; and its present pupils are generally 
from wealtliy parents, and those whose object is to fit their daugh- 
ters for private life. Its first object and mission has ever been, 
to make it a model-school for teaching the broad sphere of wo- 
man's duties and accomplishments.* 

But so popular had the system become, that throughout the 
Union the simple certificate of scholarship, signed "EmmaWil- 
lard," served as a passport to almost any desirable situation, not- 
withstanding the seminary lacked the seal of an incorporated and 
endowed institution. 

It does not lie within the scope of this article to give a full his- 

* Asan evidence of the estimation in which Mrs. Willard's power as a teacher 
are held, we make the following extract from a Poem on Female Education, deliv- 
ered before the Frederick (Md.) Female Seminary, at its annual commcucement, 
July 8th, 1858, by Christopher C. Cox: 

In the great art of Teaching we shall find 

Its best exponent is a female mind. 

In all that wins by manner or address, 

As in scholastic discipline no less; 

ii varied knowledge, oratorio sway, 

The ready pen that knowledge to convey ; 

The skill all sciences to understand. 

Grapple abstrusest problems, hand to hand ; 

Our Ti'ojan Willard stands aloft confest 

By all, the wisest, noblest, and the best ! 


tory of the Troy seminary. Its success has been unexampled. 
For several years the attendance of pupils has numbered about 
four hundred, of whom more than one-third have been boarders. 
Teachers and officers number nearly thirty. It sends forth about 
twenty-five teachers each year. Since 1833, it has been under 
the charge of the only son of Mrs. VVillard, John M. Willard, and 
his wife, Sarah L. Willard ; the former having been for some 
years her business partner, and the latter having been connected 
with the institution for nineteen years previous to 1838, as pupil, 
teacher, and vice-principal. The same methods of instruction and 
discipline are continued, with such modifications as larger means 
and added experience naturally and happily induce. 

In 184G an addition was made to the accommodation for room, 
by the erection of an additional building fifty feet square and five 
stories high, making the front of the main edifice on the Park, one 
hundred and eighty feet ; and giving rooms for philosophical appa- 
ratus, chemical laboratory, library, and lecture room, besides an 
ample hall for examinations, concerts, &;c. 

The internal arrangements of the establishment are convenient, 
including the modern improvements. The entire building is 
warmed by steam, and lighted by gas. A good calisthenic and 
exercise hall, for the health of the girls, is included in the build- 
ing. Thus Mrs. Willard has lived to see an institution, fully and 
successfully embodying the ideal of her elaborate "Plan ; " where 
the course of study is thorough and complete, and the facilities 
abundant and adapted. 

It is a peculiarly interesting circumstance, that Lady Franklin, 
whose eff()rts to rescue her husband from the Arctic seas, have 
excited a world-wide sympathy, once came to this country ex- 
pressly to visit the Troy seminary, and see for herself the suc- 
cessful training of women in the higher branches, of which she 
had heard with great interest, as characteristic of this American 
institution. She spent some time at the seminary, with great sat- 
isfaction to herself and to the teachers. 



Mrs. Willard went with her son to Europe in October, 1830, 
and returned in July, 1831. The main objects of her tour, the 
restoration of health, and the extension of professional knowledge, 
were accomplished. During her absence, the seminary was in 
charge of her sister, Mrs. Lincoln. 


The knowledge of Mrs. Willard's labors in behalf of education, 
had preceded her. When Lafayette revisited this country in 
1825, Mrs. Willard was honored with his friendship. He then 
invited her to visit France — and now received her accordingly. 
From this and other sources, she obtained facilities for visiiinnr the 
schools, especially those most remarkable for the education of 
women. Marshal McDonald gave her an order, permitting her to 
examine the schools founded by Napoleon at St. Dennis and St. 
Germain-en-Laye. She had further opportunities of knowing 
internally their regulations, from one who had long been in them, 
M'lle De Courval, who returned with her to Troy as teacher of the 
French language. By Madame Belloc she was furnished with an 
introduction to Miss Edgeworth ; from whom she received facilities 
for visiting the highest grade of female schools in England. 

Some two or three years after the promulgation of the "Plan," 
Mrs. Willard becoming acquainted with M. Salazar, the Colum- 
bian Minister, he forwa,rded a copy of it, with a letter from the 
author — pleading for her sex — to the South American Liberator. 
A respectful answer was returned by Bolivar, through the proper 
department, and a female college afterwards established at Santa 
Fe de Bogota. 

After Mrs. Willard's return from Europe in 1831, she enlisted 
her energies in a scheme for establis-liing a school in Greece for 
the improvement of the women of the East, — by inaugurating a 
school in Athens for the teaching of native teachers. By leave 
of the missionary board, under whom were Mr. and Mrs. Hill of 
Athens, this normal department was added to their school already 
existing. The Greek government responded to this welcome 
movement of the *' Troy Society," (an association of benevolent 
ladies formed at Troy,) by passing a law to educate at this normal 
school a number of beneficiaries, as great as the American ladies 
would on their part provide for. To aid in procuring the neces- 
sary funds, Mrs. Willard agreed with the society to prepare some 
one volume; and at their request she wrote out her European 
"Journal and Letters," containing 393 pages; for the publication 
of which the society realized 81,100 of the 82,500 eventually 
sent to Greece by them and others acting with them. There 
was forwarded 8500 a year to support ten beneficiaries ; until 
Dr. Milnor, the Protestant Episcopal Secretary of the Mission- 
ary Board, signified that, for the future, the Board preferred to 
have the sole control of their own agents ; and they would provide, 
if their funds warranted, for the support of the normal department. 


There is no doubt that much has been done by this normal school 
to elevate the women of the East. 

In 1838, shortly before leaving the seminary, Mrs. Willard 
made out, and has left, in a pamphlet of thirty-two pages, a con- 
densed abstract of her educational principles and practices. It 
was addressed as "A Letter to the Willard Association for the 
Mutual Improvement of Female Teachers." The pamphlet con- 
tains the names of one hundred and ninety-three members then 
present at the seminary, either as teachers or preparing to teach. 
The "Letter" is specially addressed to those whom she had 
already sent forth ; and we cannot doubt the earnestness with 
which she would endeavor to lead in the right way, those on whose 
success depended not only the extensive spread of female edu- 
cation, but the repayment of the fortune she had expended, and 
her valued good name as a teacher. 

From this pamphlet we shall presently introduce an extract, 
showing the true character of Mrs. Willard's religious teaching. 
Religion was regarded by her as the underlying and sustaining 
principle of all right education. It has always been a maxim 
with her, that no solid intellectual improvement could be expected 
of a pupil while she was morally wrong ; and hence it has been 
her constant purpose to make her "daughters," (as she regarded 
her pupils, for her love to them was scarcely less than maternal,) 
first of all feel love towards God, and understand the wisdom of 
conforming the life to His laws. To this end, not only was Christian 
truth instilled with the daily school instruction, but also by direct 
personal conversation ; and on Saturday morning, at lialf past 
eleven, when the week's work was done, a familiar, practical, 
Christian lecture, was given to the assembled scholars; at which 
the presence of each one was specially enjoined. Tins Saturday 
lecture occurred the next day after the Teacher's evening meet- 
ing, when the officer of the week, (each teacher in her turn,) pre- 
sented to the Principal a Report, embodying the seven monitrees 
bills of the day -officers, with a summary of the fault and credit 
marks given by them, and also those given by herself, with her 
own general report of the conduct of the pupils during the week. 
This summary was read to the school before the lecture began. 
Thus faults as well as improvements were reviewed, and all con- 
duct and experiences regarded in the light of God's holy law, and 
of "the power of an endless life." 

We commend the following extract from the address above re- 
ferred to: — 


But though earthly employers may not always be satisfied when you do 
your duty, yet, with the great Father of us all, we shall ever find justiee, and 
that, too,' tempered with merey. First of all, then, be careful so to regulate 
your example and your teaching, that lie, finding you faithful over a few 
things, shall, in His good time, nuike you ruler over many. Accustom your- 
selves to regard Him as the great Employer of your time, and final Judge 
and Rewarder of your virtues ; and the children under your care as His, and 
to be trained up for Him. Though this grand principle may be modified in 
its exercise by the peculiar views of earthly parents, yet it is not their will, 
even if they are so impious as to wish it, that can set aside this primary 

Faithfidneaa to God^ then, will comprehend whatever may be said on the 
extensive subject, of training the young to morality and religion. The first 
means to do this is, to show by your conduct the sacred estimation in which 
you hold these things yourself. Spkak tuue, and do right, as well as to re- 
quire it of them. Keverence God with devout love and fear ; attend upon 
His public worship and sacraments; read His word for your guide, and keep 
near to Him in prayer. Let the holy scriptures, particularly on the Lord's 
day, be taught to your pupils in a manner to interest them. The practice of 
special instruction on moral and religious subjects at some stated season, as 
in our Saturday's lectures at the Seminary, is good. Daily prayer in school 
should be regularly attended ; solemnity should prevail, but tcdiousness should 
be avoided. 

So fiir, however, from depending on set times, for the whole discharge of 
the duty of training the young to piety and virtue, you are, during all your 
exercises, to regard it as the grand object of your labors ; and while your 
pupils see that it is so, they will be learning to consider it their main concern 
also. Instead of telling them nothing more than that they must not be angry 
because it spoils their beauty, or they must not tell lies because it hurts their 
character, gravely show them that such things are displeasing to their 
Maker ; and mention some of the Scriptures which forbid them. And when 
you have punished a child for a serious fault, and the penitent asks your for- 
giveness, remind her while you pronounce it, that she should go to God in 
prayer to ask it of Him as the one she has chiefly offended. Instead of pur- 
suing the common method of making her promise a great deal to you in the 
way of amendment, (a practice which does but make promise-breakers,) coun- 
sel her to resolve against her fault before her Maker, and ask his grace to 
enable her to keep her good resolutions ; as for you, you shall know her repent- 
ance to be sincere, when there is an answering change in her conduct. Take 
advantage of passing occurrences, as the death of friends, to impress your 
pupils with the shortness of the time allotted them for preparing their last 
account ; and if an examination excites them, tell them how vain and idle it 
is to fear to be brought before a few worms of the dust, like themselves, to 
be questioned on literary matters, where they make special preparation, when 
the very secrets of their hearts are always known to God, and must one day 
be made manifest to an assembled universe. 

While engaged in teaching any study, the pious instructor will find inter- 
esting occasions of leading her scholars to view the Almighty as the God of 
Nature, or of Providence, and thus to introduce the germs of piety into their 
minds along with those of science. 

That "God has a life-plan for every human person," is a doc- 
trine strongly countenanced by the life of Mrs. Willard. Look- 
ing over it as a whole, we see that her felt mission — the progress 
of woman — had its parts ; and the time had now come, when in 
the department which regarded the Troy Seminary, her own pe- 
culiar work was accomplished, while other portions of her life- 
plan remained to be worked out. She had seen an institution 
founded, which already gave advantages to her sex, beyond her 


conception when slie wrote her " Plan." Tliosc dearest to her 
were ready and fully prepared to take her place ; and in the sum- 
mer of 1838, she resigned to them her office in the seminary. 

The next work of public interest in which Mrs. Willard en- 
gaged, was in the fall of the succeeding year, 1839. It was the 
reinvestigation of her long-studied hypothesis of the circulation of 
the blood. With the aid of her old family physician, Dr. Robbins, 
and Prof. Smith, then of Troy, (both believers in her theory,) she 
now witnessed post-mortem examinations of the heart and lungs. 
Being more and more confirmed in her views, she then carefully 
re-wrote her theory, and sent four copies of the manuscript to Eu- 
rope, of which one went to the Drs. Edwards, members of the 
French Institute. Her correspondence with one of them, and her 
treatise, are both contained in her work on the " Motive Powers," 
published in the spring of 184G. 


We have seen that Mrs. Willard's consecration to the cause of 
education, inevitably led her, in time, beyond the sphere of estab- 
lishing a Female Seminary, to the still wider benevolence of edu- 
cating female teachers — and for other lands as well as her own. 
The same consecration led her in time to feel a deep interest in 
the Common or Public Schools, which, in the year 1840, was pro- 
videntially directed to practical results of permanent value. Mrs. 
Willard thus writes : — 

"About three years before leaving the Troy Seminary, my mind 
was aroused to alarm concerning the condition of the common 
schools of my native State, by the representations of Miss Rob- 
bins, a zealous friend of education, who had just been making a 
tour of observation through these schools. Looking into the mat- 
ter, I found that it was not in Connecticut only, but in New York 
and throughout the country ; that there was a general decadence 
of the common schools. 

Early in the winter of 1840, on a visit to Kensington, I stopped at 
Hartford, and there learned, much to my satisfaction, tliat a great 
impulse in favor of common schools had been given ; warmth in 
generous hearts was enkindled ; and all around were signs of life 
and animation. Mr. Barnard, whom I had before known as the 
friend of my friend. Dr. Todd, was foremost in the movement ; and 
had received from the state an appointment, which was effec- 
tively that of State Superintendent. He had already inaugurated 
a system of operations ; and was now going the rounds of the 


State to get up an interest, and make dry bones live. He had 
appointed a festal meeting of the schools at Kensington, which 
took place about ten days after my arrival there." 

Much interest was felt by the people of Kensington, and Mrs. 
Willard was invited to write an address for the occasion, which 
she did. Mr. Barnard was present, and in his Journal thus de- 
scribes the jubilant scene : — 

On the 18th inst., a public meeting of all the schools was held at the church, 
and a happy day it proved to parents, teachers, and children. 

Upon the arrival of the schools at the meeting house, tlie music, with the 
banners, were stationed on the steps, and the scholars, hi procession, entered 
under the banners, and tilled the body of the church. Tiie house was soon 
crowded, many being in attendance from neighboring towns ; indeed it is 
said by the pastor, the Rev. Royal Robbins, to have been the laigest congre- 
gation assembled in this place since his ordination, 22 years since. The ex- 
ercises were commenced with prayer from the pastor, followed by singing 
from a large choir, under the direction of Mr, Hall, of Hartford. A concise 
and able report of the present state of the schools by the visiting committee 
was read. A piece was then sung, composed for the occasion by Rev. Mr. 
Robbins. The children were next addressed by Jesse Olney, Esq., of South- 
ington. Music followed by the band from Worthiugton, who had kindly 
volunteered their services for the occasion. An address written for the occa- 
sion by Mrs. Willard, was then read to the meeting by Mr. Burritt, and lis- 
tened to with deep and thrilling mterest. This was followed by other 
addresses and interesting exercises. 

At the close of the meeting, refreshments were passed to the children, when 
they separated in high glee, in the same order as they came, greatly pleased 
with the thought that there had been a great and high day on their account. 
It is beUeved that the interest of this occasion exceeded the highest anticipa- 
tions of the old and young. 

Mrs. Willard's address, and her past experience, were calcu- 
lated to inspire not only interest in improving the common schools, 
but confidence in its author, as the best agent for carrying out the 
improvements she so earnestly recommended. The result was 
that she was immediately invited by the influential men of the 
place, to take the common schools in hand. In order to afford her 
the due authority, she was unanimously elected by the voters of the 
parish as Superintendent of the common schools of Kensington, 
"to take tbe oversight of them for the ensuing season." To 
a written notice of those proceedings, from a committee chosen 
for that purpose, she replied by accepting the office, with the con- 
dition that she should be unanimously supported in her arduous 
duties by the women, as well as the men of Kensington. 

We pause upon the extraordinary nature of this transaction, to 
ask whether it does not inaugurate a new and correct principle of 
public action? Women cannot legally vote in a town or school- 
society meeting ; but may they not be legally voted for ? Had 
not the voters of Kensington a legal right to elect, by their votes, 
a woman for school-superintendent ? and were they not legally 



bound to sustain her acts, the same as if that office had been held 
by a man ? If school-committees may legally employ women to 
teach, why may not the voters elect women to superintend? 

In May, before the opening of the schools, Mrs. Willard, by re- 
quest of Mr. Barnard, wrote to him a letter explaining her plans 
of improvement. A few extracts will best show how she intended 
to fulfill the duties of her novel position: — 

Four schools, each with a female teacher, will have gone into operation in 
this society, (luring the week ensuing. These teachers are euguged with the 
expectation that they are to receive directions Ironi nie. Our lirst business, 
on the assembling of the schools, will be to select, with the consent of all par- 
ties, some of tlie oldest, most discreet, and best instructed girls, as assistant 
teachers. These will be employed with the three-fold object of promoting 
their own education, of making them useful in the business of the school, and 
of training them by actual service, as well as theoretical instruction, to become 
teachers in full. These assistants should be so numerous that while each siiall 
have a part, perhaps the largest part of her time for her own improvement, 
the principal teacher shall be so aided in her duties, that the whole school 
shall be kept proiitably employed. Up to a certain point, children, especially 
when quite young, learn in proportion to the instruction imparled, and this 
may often be given by a younger, as well as an older teacher. 

This plan of assistant teachers, from among the best of the scholars, I tested, 
in the early organization of the Troy Female Seminary. A school arranged in 
this manner is not so good as one with # corps of highly instructed and regu- 
larly trained teachers. But that, on account of expense, Ls out of the present 
question ; and I do believe the proposed is the best possible method of pro- 
viding the needed help to the teacher of the common schools. The wife of 
the farmer might find it easier to be served by experienced hands, than to 
teach her o\vn daugliterstokeep the house and tend the dairy; but after they 
have received the proper drill, it is her own fault if they do not beco:nc the 
best of assistants. And here is an important consideration ; if the farmer's 
wife takes other help, and neglects to instruct her daughters, how is her 
house to be taken care of, if she is removed ; or where are the young fjirmers 
to find helps meet for them? So, if the common schools do not educate their 
own teachers, it appears clear to me that the majority of them will not be 
educated. ****♦«» 

In regard to room, we shall want for each school, besides the main apart- 
ment, one small room, where an assistant can be teaching the very young 
children ; and another, perhaps larger, where the best instructed of the assist 
ants can hear recitations of the oldest pupils, and most advanced classes, 
whose lessons require considerable time. Such scholars, who understand the 
general plan of study, who can, in the main, comprehend their authors, and 
who may, in some measure, be depended upon to govern themselves, do better 
with an inferior teacher, than larger classes of younger pupils, who are to be 
governed as well as instructed, and taught the manner of study, as well as 
the subject matter. Yet the classes confided to the assistants should be reg- 
ularly reviewed by the principal teacher ; and those in this society will be 
oceasionally by myself 

This being the summer term, the most advanced pupils will be altogether 
of the female sex. I shall regard them as forming one school, divided for 
convenience of attendance, and for giving aid as assistant teachers ; but we 
shall bring them together for a common examination at the close of the term. 
Of course, in this department, there must be uniformity in the books studied. 
As to modes of teaching. I shall be satisfied with the teacher who gives to her 
good scholars (for it is the good wax alone that takes the perfect impression,) 
a thorough understanding of the subject, and to other scholars in proportion ; 
and to all a proper method of communicating what they know. It shall be 
my care to make the examination an actual test of this — a test at which the 
faithful teacher will exult. 



Eiich school house sliould, we tliink, be provided willi a clock; no matter 
how plain, if it do but perform its ollicc correctly. Whatever is to be done 
regularly requires a net time as well as a lixed place ; and teachers on low 
wages cannot afford to buy watches ; nor would they serve the purpose of a 
perpetual memento of the coming duty of the scholar, like a clock. 

We close our extracts with the view taken by Mrs. Willard 
of the influences of bad reading books, charged with fictitious 

I have collected and examined the school books used in the Kensington 
schools. The amount of fiction put into the hands of the children, in their 
daily lessons, strikes me with surprise and regret. Truth is the mother of 
science, and the ancient ally of virtue. Fiction may mislead, even when she 
intends to do good — truth, never. The mind that feeds on fiction, becomes 
bloated and unsound, and already inebriated, still thirsts for more. And has 
not so much of the mental aliment of our times been fiction, that this delirium 
of the mind has become an evil so pervading that we ought resolutely to shun 
its source, and turn now to the simple element of pure truth ? Some of these 
books, too, contain low and vulgar language. Who would scud a child 
among clowns to learn manners? 

In general, sacred objects are the best for schools. There is even among 
children, an awe and quietness diffused by ideas pertaining to God and 
religion, which tend to good order ; and shed around the true atmosphere 
of the soul. 

For months Mrs. Willard devoted her untiring energies to the 
four schools of the parish. Her retired chamber was consecrated 
to religion, and to the consideration of her new duties in regard to 
the common schools, — and no books, except on these subjects — 
none whatever of amusement — were there admitted. Oa alter- 
nate Saturdays came the four teachers, and oftener came a class 
of nearly twenty, whom she called her normal pupils, to whom 
she taught history and reading, — to a few, algebra, and geometry. 

She organized a "Female Common School Association" of wo- 
men of Kensington, with constitution, by-laws, meetings, and effec- 
tive work. She counseled with the teachers, met them for 
special instruction at appointed times ; gave minute attention 
to the teaching of the children of the several schools, so that every, 
thing should be done at the right time, and in regular order; she 
introduced her own methods of discipline and instruction, practiced 
at Troy ; she selected school-books, established a regular system 
of marks, and exercised the children most successfully in read- 
ing, geography and arithmetic ; made copies for their training in 
penmanship and drawing; dictated model letters of business and 
friendship, and accustomed them to compose off-hand compositions, 
writing on their slates accounts of passing occurrences, — and she 
so taught them that mistakes in spelling were rare. She directed 
what the children should sing all together, and wliat tunes the 
older ones should write on their black-boards, dictated to them in 


musical notation. She composed a song on "Good Old Kensing- 
ton," which was a rejoicing lo the children, and to be sung at the 
examination — and a simple heart-prayer, which they recited at 
the close of each school, with feeling and solemnity ; — she sketched 
model maps, beginning with the town itself, marking the brooks 
and bridges, the roads, the church, the school-houses — greatly to 
the edification of the interested children. She talked of her im- 
provements among the people — the men and the women — in the 
house and by the way ; and thus, by all possible devices, wrought 
out a genuine enthusiasm in fathers, mothers, and children. 

In all her labors, she had the hearty cooperation of Mr. Barnard, 
who sometimes shared with her the labor of visiting the schools. 

On the 10th of September, a public examination of the four 
schools was held at the church, which was crowded not only with 
the people of Kensington and the adjacent parishes, but also with 
distinguished educators of Connecticut and other states. The ex- 
ercises were continued with unabated interest, from nine o'clock 
in the morning to half-past six in the afternoon, with one hour's 
intermission. The children entered into the full spirit of the oc- 
casion, and made it a proud day for their parents and for Mrs. 
Willard. At the close of the examination, a gentleman of Ken- 
sington, expressed, in the name of the society, public thanks for 
lier arduous and unselfish labors ; and the State Superintendent 
expressed his satisfaction. 

From Mr. Barnard's report to the legislature, and in the School 
Journal, the Kensington proceedings were copied, and went into 
other states. Thus, much of what was experiment there, became 
common practice in the schools throughout Connecticut and else- 
where. Mrs. Willard was honored for her gratuitous services in 
the cause ; and received numerous invitations to meet with edu- 
cational and literary societies, and conventions; and to write 
addresses for those at a distance ; which she often did. 

Before leaving Connecticut, Mrs. Willard projected the plan 
of a Normal School in Berlin, which would probably have been 
carried into effect, but for the abolition of the Board of Commis- 
sioners of Common Schools, and the temporary suspension of Mr. 
Barnard's labors in Connecticut, upon whose co-operation she 
had relied. Her plan contemplated a well organized system of 
Teachers' Institutes, rather than a permanent Normal School. 
There were to be two sessions of not less than four weeks each, 
held at those periods of the year when the great mass of teachers 



could attend them witliout interfering witli their ordinary avocations. 
Those who joined the school were to engage to attend four suc- 
cessive sessions, and to go through the prescribed course of study. 
The union of theory and practice would thus be more thoroughly 
carried out than in a permanent school, and the benefits would Lo 
widely and immediately felt throughout the state. 

In 1845, Mrs. Willard was invited to attend a Convention of 
County Superintendents of Common Schools at Syracuse. She 
was made an honorary member, and invited to participate in the 
exercises and deliberations, which she declined ; but communicated 
a paper on the place which woman should hold in the common 
school system and educational movements of the day. In this 
paper, which was read, and favorably received, among other sug- 
gestions the author recommends the adoption of the plan of opera- 
tions which she had inaugurated in respect to the Kensington 
schools, and especially the formation in every town of a society 
of women, with a constitution similar to the one adopted there. 
This constitution provides for the appointment of three committees, 
to co-operate with the regular school officers of the town — one to 
ascertain the condition of the children who were not at school, and 
to assist in getting them ; a second, on the accommodations of the 
school, to see to the state of the grounds, and all those circum- 
stances which affect the health and comfort of the pupils; and a 
//izrcif, on procuring books, and the means of illustrating the studies 
of the school. Mrs. Willard was treated with great respect by 
the convention — the members calling on her in a body at tlie house 
of her hospitable friends, Mr. and Mrs. Redfield. 

This interesting and profitable meeting of superintendents, led 
to Mrs. Willard's being earnestly invited to assist in the exercises 
of several Teachers' Institutes in the ensuing autumn — which she did 
by traveling in her own carriage, with a female companion, through 
the counties of Sullivan, Broome, Tioga, Greene, and afterwards 
to Oneida by railroad — meeting with over six hundred teachers, 
and interesting a large number of parents, mothers as well as 
fathers, in the management of the common schools, where their 
children were educated. 

In the spring of 1846, Mrs. Willard having published her theory 
of Circulation by Respiration,* set out on a tour through the 

* A Treatise on the 3fotwe Powers, which produce the Circulation of the Blood: 
New York, "Wiley & Putnam, 1844. That this work contains an important dis- 
covery, is now extensively conceded. In 1851, Dr. Cartwright, of New Orleans, 
is claimed to have proved it, by his vivisection of alligators, made for that express 


Western and Southern states, with her niece, Miss Lincoln, f as a 
companion. Through her long journey, of over 8,000 miles, em- 
bracing all the principal cities in every state west and south of 
New York, except Florida and Texas, slie was everywhere met 
by her former pupils with every demonstration of affection, and 
made welcome to their homes by every form of hospitality. To 
seminaries for the education of girls, she was received as a 
founder and pioneer of this class of institutions. 

In the summer of 1849, she published a pamphlet of 100 pages, 
on ^^Respiration and its Effects, — particularly as it respects Asi- 
atic Cholera,''^ as a contribution to the modes of dealing with that 
formidable epidemic, which threatened to renew the terrible scenes 
of 1832. 

In 1852-3, Mrs. Willard was earnestly occupied in writing an 
educational work on Astronomy, to'embody improvements, origin- 
ated in their first conception while she was a teacher in that de- 
partment. They form one of her most valuable contributions to 
the cause of education ; and in which — in the language of Prof. 
Avery, of Hamilton College — "she has achieved a remarkable 
success in making the elements of a difficult science, easy of 
comprehension." The theory of the Tides, presented in this vol- 
ume, is interesting, original, and simple. 

In June, 1854, Mrs. Willard, again accompanied by her niece, 
Miss Lincoln, re-crossed the ocean to attend the World's Educa- 
tional Convention, at London. By Mr. Barnard, — already there, — 
she was introduced to its officers, and to the most eminent foreign 
educators; and to some of their most interesting reunions. 

After the convention, Mrs. Willard accompanied her sister, Mrs. 
Phelps, (just arrived from the U. S.) her son and two daughters, 
through France, Switzerland, Northern Italy, Germany, and Bel- 
gium. In Paris, those noble educators who have done so much 
for the women of France, Madame Belloc, and M'lle Montgolfier, 
with whom she had corresponded since 1831, met Mrs. Willard 
and Mrs. Phelps, as sisters meet sisters. 

Her next, perhaps her last, educational labor, had for its object 

purpose. In 1854, Dr. Washington, of Missouri, in the Nashville Medical and 
Surgical Journal, (upheld by Dr. Bowling, the senior Editor,) wrote down all op- 
position. Dr. Draper, of New York, in his late work on Physiology', says that 
Hervey's theory of the heart's power, is not correct ; but the principle of Circu- 
lation by Respiration is. 

t ^liss Lincoln was one of the victims of the railroad disaster, at Burlington, 
New Jersey, August 29, 1855. In her premature and violent death, society lost 
a gifted and accomplished woman. 


to provide such a reading book for the common schools, as when 
in Kensington, she saw they needed; and her impressions there 
had become deepened by the alarming growth of juvenile crime. 
She gave to the work the title of " Morals for the Young, or Good 
Principles Instilling Wisdom." This book presents in simple, 
yet forcible and attractive style, the essential principles of a true 
Christian life, and God's Providential government ; and from its 
avoidance of all denominationalism, is well adapted to become a 
text-book in public schools. 

The selection of Mrs. Emma Willard to occupy a place in this 
gallery of eminent American Teachers, was not, so much because 
of her accomplished work, immense as this has been ; not be- 
cause she had by unsurpassed energy established the first sci- 
entific female seminary ; nor because, as an author, a million 
of her books were circulated ; nor because she has published va- 
rious addresses on the subject of education, presented by invita- 
tion before various important bodies in various parts of the country; 
nor because she has enlisted wide discussion and general interest, 
by the results of investigations in physiology ; nor because she 
has done much disinterested work for the improvement of the 
public scliools ; nor because she initiated in her own Seminary 
a system for the special education of teachers; but because 
she is preeminently a Representative Woman, who suitably 
typifies the great movement of the nineteenth century for the 
elevation of woman ; because her life lias been consecrated to the 
education and advancement of her sex, or rather we might say 
that the Christian elevation of woman has been the life itself — the 
heart-impulse of which the facts we sketch are the exponents. In 
this she is individual — note worthy. Other women establish suc- 
cessful seminaries, write successful books, make successful inves- 
tigations, but they do what they do, either for the sake of the thing 
done, or for the sake of some benevolence or principle embodied 
and completed in the thing done. But with Mrs. Willard the 
thing done has been in behalf of somewhat outside and higher; 
and this higher end is the progress of woman. And although this 
has not been always, nor perhaps often, consciously, her great 
object; (as a great object, self forgettingly sought, absorbs self- 
consciousness,) and although efforts to determine a theory of the 
circulation of the blood, have occupied an important part of her 
life, in which no one department of humanity is exclusively in- 
terested, yet even in these scientific studies we may say that the 
inspiration was the winning a higher consideration towards woman. 
In behalf of her life-purpose she has established seminaries, writ- 


ten books, presented addresses, wrought out theories, superin- 
tended public schools, solicited legislatures, dispensed monies, 
toiled, and prayed, and wept, and thanked God; and, more than 
all, in her own life she has been the possibilities of woman which 
she preached. For this reason, we have written of her with warm 
impulse and willing pen. 

LIST OF rUBLICATIONS, by Mrs. Emma Willard. 

Plan for Improving Female Education, addressed as a Memorial to the 
Legislature of New York, 1819. 

The WooniJKiDGE and Willard Geographies and Atlases, comprising 
a Universal Geography and Atlas, a School Geograpliy and Athis, an Ancient 
Geography and Atlas, Geography for beginners, and Atlas ; 1822. 

History of the United States, or Republic of America; 530 pp. Brought 
down in 1852; 1828, with a Historic Atlas. 

Journal and Letters from Europe; 1833. 

Universal History in Perspective; 626 pages; 1837. 

Abridgment of American History; 1843. 

Temple of Time, or Chronographer of Unhversal History; 1844. 

A Chronographer of English History, on a similar plan ; 1845. 

A Chronographer of Ancient History; 1847. 

Historic Guide, to accompany the Temple of Time and other Charts. 

A Treatise on the Motive Powers which produce the Circulation of 
THE Blood; 1846. 

Respiration and its Effects, particularly as respects Asiatic Chol- 
era; 1849. 

Last Leaves of American History, containing a History of the Mexican 

War, and of California; 1849. 
Astronomy; 1853. 
Morals for the Young, or Good Principles Instilling Wisdom ; 1857. 

Besides these larger works, three addresses on " Female Education in Greece," 
1832; an address read at Norwich on the same subject, 1833; an address to the 
" Willard Association," for the mutual improvement of " Female Teachers," 1838; 
"Political Position of Women," 1848; " Our Father's; " "Bride Stealing;" an 
appeal against " Wrong and Injury," and a pamphlet and "An Answer " to Ma- 
rion Wilson's " Repl}^;" two poems, read at the " Farmington Centennial," 1840; 
a poem contributed to the " Statesmen in Albany;" " Universal Peace to be in- 
troduced by a Confederacy of Nations, meeting at Jerusalem," 1820; "Will sci- 
entific education make Woman lose her sense of dependance on Man?" answered 
in a contribution to the " Literary Magazine," N .Y., 1821 ; a metaphysical article 
on " General Terms," pul)lished in the American Journal of Science and Arts, 
Vol. xxiii. No. 1, 1832; a volume of " Poems," 1830. 

Besides the above, Mrs. Willard has written many other contributions to differ- 
en periodicals, and numerous addresses, which have been read in difierent parts 
of the Union, to schools, to literary and educational societies, &c. 


Samuel Read Hall, the author of ^'■Lectures on School Keeping^"* 
and the first principal of the first Teachers' Seminary established in 
this country, was born in Croydon, N. H., October 27, 1795, — the 
youngest of eleven children of Rev. Samuel Read Hall and Elizabeth 
Hall, his wife * He received in infancy the name of Read, — that of 
Samuel having been prefixed by authority of the legislature, after the 
death of an elder brother. Soon after his birth, his father made a 
purchase of one-half of the " Eastern Township" in Canada, and with 
his family commenced his journey to settle there, during the winter 
of 1796. Before reaching his destination, however, he learned that his 
title was not valid, and that those from whom he had purchased had 
absconded ; by which he had lost his entire property. This informa- 
tion reached him at Maidstone, Essex Co., Vermont, and then he was 
obliged to stop, having no inducement either to proceed or to return. 
He procured accommodations for the family in Guildhall, an adjoin- 
ing town, and obtained the lease of a tract of public land, upon which 
he continued to reside for fifteen years. 

The hardships of pioneer life were experienced by his family in 
full measure. The number of families in the town was, at that time, 
only ten or twelve. A mill was soon erected at Marshall's Fall on 
the Connecticut, one mile from his residence ; but no school was com- 
menced in that part of the town for several years. The only literary 
advantages enjoyed by the younger children were those of the " home 
school." But these advantages were better, perhaps, than most chil- 
dren enjoy under similar circumstances; the parents being well educa- 
ted, and the father especially, having been long employed in teaching, 
at the place of his former residence, during the winter of each year. 

The subject of this notice had made so much progress, when a 
school was commenced in the neighborhood, that, though only eight 
or nine years of age, he was placed at once in the " first class," to read 
and spell. The reading-book was Morse's Geography, and the lessons 

*The parents of Mr. Hall, bearing the ^^ame name before marriage, were remotely related. 
His paternal grandfather was Stephen Hall, of Sutton, Mass., and his maternal grandfather, 
Hezekiah Hall, of Uxbridge, and sub.sequently of Tyringliam, Mass. These families are 
traced back to two brothers, who emigrated to this country about the year 1630, and settled, 
one near Cape Cod. and the other at what is now Medford, Mass. ; descendants of whom are 
found scattered in all parts of the United States. 


for spelling were taken from Perry's Dictionary. The following win- 
ter he was classed with those who were studying Pike's Arithmetic 
and Alexander's Grammar. 

At that period, there were no schools during the summer, and 
usually but two months in the winter; so that the privileges that 
young Read enjoyed, at the age of fifteen years, did not amount to a 
year, and this under teachers extremely deficient in qualifications. 
The latter fact was, however, no doubt indirectly beneficial to him, 
with his thirst for knowledge, as it led him to feel the necessity and 
induced the habit of self-reliance. 

His father's library, though very small, contained a few books that 
were of great service to Reed. In place of the multitude of narratives, 
fictitious and others, that beguile the childhood of our time, he had 
"Watts on the Mind, Mason on Self-Knowledge, and Locke on the 
Human Understanding. With the two former he made himself quite 
familiar before he was twelve years old, and with the latter before he 
was fifteen. " The works of that learned man, William Pemhle of 
Muffdalen Hall, Oxford" a very old book, occupied much of his leis- 
ure time in boyhood. This volume is partly in Latin and partly in 
English, and treats mostly of religious matters. lie found in it a 
'"'' Briefe Introduction to Geographic^'' and an «ssay entitled "A 
S V M M E of Moral Philosophic." With the aid of an old Latin 
Accidence and Lexicon, used by his father when a boy, and Bailey's 
Dictionary, he was enabled not only to read the English essays, but 
to get at so much of the meaning of the chapters, " De Formarum 
Origine" et " De Sensibos Internis," as to become greatly interested in 
them. lie continues to regard that old folio with high reverence 
to this day, and will leave it as an heir-loom to his children. 

In consequence of exigences into which Mr. Hall had been thrown, 
as above stated, he became the religious teacher of the town ; after a 
few years, was regularly inducted into the ministry, and, in 1811, was 
ordained pastor of a church in Ruraford, Maine. To that place his 
youngest son accompanied him ; the other children "then living having 
arrived at manhood. Rumford was then but another sphere of pio- 
neer life, — principally surrounded by wilderness, there being no settle- 
ments on the north. Indeed, settlements had extended but a few miles 
on either side of the Androscoggin, and from Ellis river, a tributary 
uniting with it in that town. 

Rumford was in a transition state, and, though rapidly increasing m 
population, the schools w^ere of the kind described in Mr. Burton's 
graphic ''''District School as it was." The care of a small farm and 
other circumstances prevented Read's attendance even at these schools 


more than a few months, till after the decease of his father, which 
occurred in 1814. 

Left now to the guidance of his own inclination and judgment, 
young Hall undertook in earnest to qualify himself to become a Teach- 
er. With no patrimony, he was entirely dependent on his own 
efforts. lie was besides always a sufferer from diseases developed in 
childhood, and which interfered with his ability to perform an amount 
of manual labor, common to young men of his age. After some 
time spent in study, under the direction of Rev. Daniel Gould, who 
succeeded his father, as pastor of the church at Rumford, he entered 
upon his chosen employment, in 1815, in that town, and continued to 
teach there and at Bethel, during that winter. His purpose then 
was to prepare for college, and to become a minister of the Gospel. 
As a teacher, he felt himself greatly deficient in necessary qualifica- 
tions, but his success was very much beyond what he had dared to 
expect. In fact the spirit of the pioneer and originator soon began to 
work outwardly, as it had been trained to do within. After he had 
become well acquainted with his school at Bethel, he endeavored to 
introduce some improvements. Among these was the writing o# com- 
positions. This awakened at first strong opposition among both pupils 
and parents. It had never been required in a district school before, 
within the knowledge of either the instructor, the scholars, or the 
parents. The latter took the part of their children, because they 
believed them incapable of the task, and the scholars, thus sustained 
in their disinclination to attempt it, asked with one consent to be ex- 
cused. The instructor requested the attendance of both parents and 
pupils the next evening, to hear his reasons for endeavoring to intro- 
duce the exercise. At this meeting his object was to convince all of 
both the practicability and usefulness of such an exercise ; and, having 
given them his reasons, he left the decision with themselves. The 
result was a demonstration of his remarkable pedagogical powers. 
When the day for compositions arrived, he had the satisfaction of 
receiving one from every one of those whom he had requested to unite 
in the exercise, and, among others, from a little girl, eleven years old. 

On receiving and reading the compositions, he affectionately thanked 
his pupils for the effort they had made, and told them that, with 
few exceptions, the compositions were better than he had expected, — 
that they had proved the truth of the adage, " Where there is a will, 
there is a way." From that time writing compositions was a weekly 
exercise. And this success marked at least as decided an era in the 
teacher's progress as in that of his pupils. It assured him that much 
more could be accomplished for the benefit of schools, if the right 


means were used ; and he became convinced and was led to feel that 
this ought to be attempted, both by himself and others. 

During the spring and summer of 1818, Mr. Hall attended an acad- 
emy at North Bridgeton, Maine, under the instruction of Rev. V. Little, 
and, in the autumn of that year, entered the Kimball Union Academy, 
at Plainfield, New Hampshire, where some assistance' was offered to 
young men preparing for the ministry. "With this seminary he was 
connected for nearly three years, teaching a part of each year at 
Lyndeborough and Wilton, New Hampshire. In these places he 
succeeded in effecting important changes, both in the studies prosecu- 
ted and the books used. His first aim was to awaken a thirst for 
necessary knowledge, and to convince all that ignorance of the branches 
which could be required in the common school, was not merely a mis- 
fortune, but a sin. An unusually large proportion of the members of 
the school at Lyndeborough were over sixteen years of age, and sev- 
eral were between twenty and thirty. Nothing but the elementary 
branches had ever been taught in these schools ; not even geography. 
This study, with the history of the United States and natural philos- 
ophyf he introduced during the first winter, and intense interest was 
awakened by them. It was asserted, by both parents and pupils, that 
more progress was made in the school during that winter than in all 
the five preceding. He was employed to teach in the same place the 
ensuing autumn and winter. Several other studies were then intro- 
duced, and the school attracted much notice, both there and in the 
neighboring towns. His success, in fact, was so marked that his serv- 
ices were sought in many places, at almost any wages that he was 
disposed to ask. The next winter he taught at Wilton ; and also dur- 
ing the autumn and winter succeeding. The results here were still 
more satisfactory, and a new era commenced in the schools of that 

It must by no means be supposed that Mr. Hall's success was due 
solely or chiefly to his intellectual activity and enterprise, and the 
stimulating effect of these, and of new studies upon young minds. 
His influence through the conscience and the affections was still more 
decided and important. It was felt, throughout the school, that Mr. 
Hall would do what was right, and that it was the desire of his heart 
above all things that every member of the school should also do what 
was right in the sight of God. The sense of duty — the feeling of ac- 
countability for talents and opportunities, and a proper regard for the 
just claims of others, were carefully cherished ; it was the public sen- 
timent of the school that the teacher was the helper and friend of all, 
and that an exact compliance with his wishes was wisest and best. 


The best lessons of the ^^Lectures on School Keeping^'' were working 
themselves out in actual realities. But these labors were too much. 
Mr. Hall's health became seriously impaired ; and, after a period of 
great prostration, he was obliged, reluctantly, to abandon his inten- 
tion of entering college, and pursue a less complete course of study. 
He left Meriden, and studied theology, first with Rev. W. Chapin, at 
Woodstock, Vermont, and then with Rev. W. Eaton, of Fitchburg, 
Mass., at which place he taught a school, in 1822, 

While at Fitchburg, he was advised by several clergymen not to 
defer longer his entrance upon the work of the ministry ; and, al- 
though not himself convinced, he consented to refer the question to 
the Worcester North Association. By that body he was licensed, 
and immediately received a commission from the Domestic Missionary 
Society of Vermont, to labor at Concord, in that state. 

At Concord, it was one of the first duties with him to visit the 
schools. He soon saw that the time of many of the children and 
youth was nearly lost, through the deficiencies of the teachers em- 
ployed, and felt that in no way could he accomplish more good, than 
by efforts to "teach the teachers" of these and the neighboring 

When, therefore, he received from the church and people an earn- 
est request to remain with them as pastor, his consent was given, on 
the condition that he should be allowed to open a school for the in- 
struction especially of those in town who desired to become teachers. 
With that understanding, he was ordained, March 5th, 1823, and, 
the following week, opened the proposed seminary. He admitted a 
class of young pupils, as well as classes of those more advanced ; the 
former rather as a Model School, in the instruction of which he in- 
tended to illustrate to those intending to become teachers, both how 
children should be governed and instructed.* 

In order to awaken greater interest in the education of teachers, 
Mr. Hall prepared a course of lectures on school keeping, probably 
some years earlier than any other effort of the kind was ever made, 
either in the United States or Great Britain. These lectures were 

• In order to a correct estimate of Mr. Hall's place In the history of educational improve- 
ment in this country, the dates are important. Here, in an obscure corner of New England, 
under the hand of one who was, to a remarkable degree, self-taught, self-prompted, and alone 
in plannina: it, was an institution with all the essential characteristics of a Normal School, 
eighteen years before the Massachusetts movement had reached that point of development 
which secured the establishment of the Normal School at Lexington. [See Vol. IV., pp. 215- 
2S9, of this .Journal.] Mr. Hall was, in fact, a '• teacher of teachers." at the head of such in- 
stitutions almost continuously for more than seventeen years from this date; namely, at 
Concord, from March, 1823 to July, 1830 ; at Andover, from September, 1830 to June, 1837; 
and at Plymouth, N. H., from June, 1837, to May, 1510. The cArono^og-jca/ plan, and independ- 
ent origin of the '■'Lectures on School Keeping," are also important. 


written without any aid from books or periodicals. When first de- 
livered, there was not a single tract, within his knowledge, furnishing 
even " hints " on the subjects discussed. 

"The American Journal of Education" was commenced in 
1826, three years after the commencement of this school, and was at 
once heartily welcomed by Mr. Hall as a most important auxilliary. 
Every page was carefully read, as the numbers successively came to 
hand. The influence of that work, both while conducted by Mr. 
Russell and afterward by Mr. Woodbridge, was most highly salutary 
to the interests of education in the country. Many teachers besides 
himself regarded the work as the beginning of a new era in the pro- 
gress of popular education. Some of the oldest writers in the coun- 
try were secured as contributors, and very able discussions enriched 
its pages. 

With the hope of awakening the attention of parents and children 
in the state to a subject almost entirely neglected in the schools, Mr. 
Hall prepared and published, in 1827, i\iQ ^''Geography and History 
of Vermont.''^* The success of this little volume exceeded the author's 
expectations. It was very soon introduced into most of the schools in 
the state, and was regarded with favor by teachers generally. 

Some who had heard the ^^Lectures on School Keeping,^'' expressed 
an earnest desire that thf^y might be published. Mr. Hall accordingly 
conferred with friends in Boston, and teachers in other places, and 
the result was, its appearance from the press in 1829, and the sale of 
the first edition in a few weeks. A second edition was issued ; and, 
soon after, an edition of ten thousand copies was printed on the order 
of the superintendent of common schools in New York, for distribution 
to all the school districts in that state. 

About the time of the publication of these lectures, the trustees of 
Phillips Academy, Andover, erected a spacious building, with the de- 
sign of establishing an English Department. In this efibrt, they had 
primary reference to the necessities of those who were to become 
teachers in " Common and Higher Schools." 

The appearance of the Lectures, while the building was in progress, 

* Of this work, the editor of the Journal, unsolicited, gave the following notice :— 
«' This is one of the most judicious and practical books for a primary school that we hav« 
yet seen. We value it, not so much for its entire correspondence with the views so often ex- 
pressed in our pages, as for the uncommon quantity of useful and interesting matter it con- 
tains, and for its happy adaptation to the minds of children. The geographical details are 
well selected ; and the chapter on natural history will furnish much food for thought, and 
will aid the early formation of good mental habits. The civil history is sufficiently copious 
for the purposes of such a volume ; and the account of the hardships of the early settlers 
is highly instructive and entertaining. 

Books, such as this, contain the true elements of enlightened patriotism, and possess a 
much higher value than is apparent at first sight." 


and while the trustees were inquiring for a principal to take charge 
of the new seminary, led to a request that Mr. Hall would consent 
to be a candidate. Though he had, for more than a year, found his 
health seriously impaired by the care of a large parish and the labors 
of the school at Concord, and supposed he must soon relinquish one 
or the other, he shrunk from the responsibilities of the seminary at 
Andover. He felt the disadvantages of his early education ; and, re- 
plied frankly that, in his opinion, some other person ought to be select- 
ed, declined the invitation. It was still, however, urged upon him, 
and in the result, after a long correspondence, his name was placed 
with those of other candidates, and he received the appointment, and 
was soon after released from his engagements at Concord. 

The seminary was divided into three departments. The Normal 
or Teachers' Department ; the General Department, designed to pre- 
pare young men for business ; and the Boy's Department, or Model 
School. The ^^ Annals of Education^'' for 1834, contains the following 
notice of the first of these departments : — 

In the Teacher's Department are three classes. The course of study can 
be accomplished in three years. But, as the middle and senior classes are ex- 
pected to be absent to enable them to teach during the winter, the course re- 
quires three and a halt" years. The regular time for admission is at the com- 
mencement of the summer term. Candidates for admission to the junior class, 
must be prepared to pass a satisfactory examination on the sounds of English let- 
ters, rules of spelling, reading, geography, first principles of etymology and syn- 
tax, intellectual arithmetic, history of the United States, ground rules of written 
arithmetic, and fractions. The year is divided into three terms, and the follow- 
ing studies are pursued at each : — 


First Term. — English Grammar ; Intellectual Arithmetic, reviewed; History of United 
States, reviewed. 

Second Term. — Written Arithmetic ; Geography, ancient and modern ; History of 

Third Term. — Written Arithmetic, _^nisAetZ; Linear Drawing, Construction of 
Maps ; Use of Globes ; Book-keeping. 


First Term. — Algebra ; Euclid ; Rhetoric. 
Second Term. — Algebra, finished ; Trigonometry ; Chemistry. 

Third Term. — Chemistry, finished; Surveying; Spherical Geometry, Conic Sec- 


First Term. — Natural Philosophy ; Logic ; Civil Engineenng. 

Second Term. — Natural Theology ; Evidences of Christianity ; Moral Philosophy ; 

Third Term. — Political Economy ; Intellectual Philosophy ; Art of Teaching. 

All the members of the junior class attend to the '''■Political Class Book^^ on 
Saturdays, and declamation and composition on Wednesdays, through the year. 
The middle and senior classes write compositions on subjects connected with the 
art of teaching. 

Lectures are given, accompanied with illustrations and experiments, on the most 
important studies; particularly, natural philosophy, chemistry, and school keep- 
ing. Each one who finishes the course will have attended more than fifty lec- 
tures on the latter subject. 

When the Teachers' Seminary, at Andover, was established, no 


similar institution existed in the United States. The Prussian Normal 
Schools could not be closely imitated in this country, on account of 
great diversity of condition. Mr. Hall was obliged to originate every 
thing, according to his own judgment, and the limited experience he 

The course of study to be established, and the length of time 
"which it should occupy, demanded the exercise of great discrimina- 
tion. If too much were attempted, but few would be willing to enter 
upon it ; and, if too little, the qualifications of teachers would be su- 
perficial. A three years' course was established as, on the whole, 
preferable to one longer or shorter. And, so far as he had oppor- 
tunity to know the opinion of the patrons of the seminary and the 
public, the length of time and the arrangement of studies were ap- 
proved. A very obvious increase of interest in popular education 
was soon apparent. This was a source of encouragement, no less 
than of gratification. Applications for the services of the members 
of the seminary, to teach school, were greatly beyond the supply ; 
while the compensation offered was more than doubled within a few 

In this new and wider sphere, and with these encouragements, Mr. 
Hall's plans naturally received a larger development. It occurred 
to him that a new impulse might be given to the cause of popular 
education^ by organizing a society, and employing agents to visit dif- 
ferent parts of the country, who, by lectures and otherwise, might 
awaken the attention of parents to the defects of schools, and to the 
loss sustained by the rising generation. He invited the co-operation 
of the professoi-s and students of the Theological Seminary, the 
teachers in the Latin School, and in the Female Seminary, at An- 
dover, and several of the earnest friends of popular education in 
Boston and other places. The result was, the formation of the Amer- 
ican School Agents' Society. 

This, it will be seen, throws considerable light upon the agency of 
the subject of this notice, in planting those seeds which have germin- 
ated, and are now producing such rich fruits in Massachusetts. At 
this time, none of those noble agencies were organized by the Com- 
monwealth, which have since gladdened the friends of popular edu- 
cation. The spirit of iraprov^ement, though already extensively 
awakened, and full of hope and promise, had not yet embodied it- 
self in the form of law. 

In the formation of the x\meriean Institute, in 1829, Mr. Hall had 
co-operated, and was to have given one of the lectures at the first 
meeting, in August, 1830, but was providentially prevented from at- 



tending. At the second meeting, August, 1833, he read a lecture on 
the " Necessity of Educating Teachers ;" and, at another, one on 
" School Government." 

His position involved a large amount of miscellaneous labor. As 
the head of a seminary, he received numerous applications for teach- 
ers. Many teachers also, not connected with the seminary, applied 
to him to (jbtain schools. These applications imposed upon him a 
very extensive correspondence, which, to one already overburdened 
with labor, was so onerous that his health soon became seriously im- 
paired, for it obliged him to use, in work, time needed for sleep and 
exercise. It was no uncommon thing for him to be occupied in 
school, and at his desk, from sixteen to eighteen hours of the day. 
He was obliged to employ many assistant teachers from time to time, 
and superintending their labors was not a light task, while the gov- 
ernment and direction of studies of the entire school devolved wholly 
on him. For a limited period, Mr. John Q. A. Codgell was with him, 
as associate principal. But this arrangement was not entered into 
with a view of permanency, and was continued only a few terms. 

Several books, published during this period, added considerably 
to Mr. Hall's labors. He wrote and published the ^^Child^s Geogra- 
'phij^'' to illustrate what he regarded an error in the mode of teach- 
ing that branch ; reversing the order that had been invariably pur- 
sued, and beginning with a description and map of a town, and 
ending with a map and description of the world. The sale was large, 
and continued long after other works of a similar kind were in the 
market. The '■^ Grammatical Asn^lant^^ the '•''School Arithmetic^'' 
'"'•Lectures on Parental Responsibility and Religious Training^''' "^4 
School History of the United States,''^ jointly prepared by him and 
Rev. A. R. Baker, ''Lectures to Female Teachers,'' ''Teacher's Gift,'' 
and "What every hoy can do'' were successively published, in addi- 
tion to many anonymous articles in the "Annals of Education " and 
other periodicals. Several of these works were written, and all of 
them published, between the years 1830 and 1838. Of most of them, 
several editions were called for. By the misfortune in business of 
some of the publishers, while the works were in press, the success of 
two or three was less than it would otherwise have been, although the 
author never made any efforts to secure the success of his books 
after committing them to the press. Some were less carefully pre- 
pared than others. But those which cost him most labor were the 
most successful. This was true especially of the "History of the 
United States'' the body of which was entirely his work, and which 
he regarded as the best he ever wrote. The publisher failed in busi- 


ness while it was in press, and nothing was done to introduce it to 
the notice of teachers. 

In the midst of these labors, at the commencement of the summer 
term, 1834, Mr. Hall was arrested by a very serious attack of pneu- 
monia ; and, although he partially recovered after a few weeks, he 
was obliged, in consequence, to withdraw from active efforts on be- 
half of several objects, and especially the School Agent' Society. He 
was not himself able to attend the annual meeting of that year, and 
was pained to know that most of those on whom most reliance was 
placed to carry out its plans, were also in feeble health, or had left 
New England. Not entirely recovering from the attack of pneumonia, 
the harsh coast climate affected him unfavorably. He was, therefore, 
inclined to accept the appointment, received at this time, of president 
of the new collegiate institution at Oberlin, Ohio ; but yielded to the 
remonstrances of the Andover professors and others, against under- 
taking, in his state of health, so laborious an enterprise. 

During the years 1834-36 also, Mr. Hall was subjected to very 
heavy domestic bereavements, in the death of more than half of his 
family ; three children and his wife. Under these accumulated trials, 
his health declined so much that he felt constrained to tender his 
resignation to the trustees, and seek a residence in the interior, re- 
moved from the influence of its damp and chilly winds. When this 
became known, he received numerous invitations to occupy other 
fields, some from the south, and some from the west; but he thought 
a northern location promised more for his restoration to health. The 
trustees of Holmes Plymouth Academy, located near the geograph- 
ical center of New Hampshire, had projected a theological depart- 
ment in the seminary under their care, and erected spacious build- 
ings. Mr. Hall was chosen its principal, in January, 1837. But, 
before the plan was fully matured, a similar institution was estab- 
lished at Gilmanton, in the same state. When this fact was made 
known, Mr. Hall strongly advised the trustees to make the institution 
at Plymouth a Teachers' Seminary, for both males and females, and 
to modify their decision with regard to a theological department. 
On this ground alone was he willing, under all the circumstances, to 
accept the office. The trustees acquiesced. Their efforts had been 
commenced with confident expectation of receiving a donation of 
fifteen thousand dollars from a former citizen of Plymouth, who had 
emigrated to Alabama. This, with funds already possessed, encour- 
aged the hope that a Teachers' Seminary of high order, could be 
founded and sustained. In this hope, Mr. Hall assumed the charge 
of the institution, in June, 1837. A plan of study for both a male 


and female normal department, and for a classical and general course, 
was drawn up, and regular classes were formed at the opening of the 

At Mr. Hall's suggestion. Rev. T. D. P. Stone was elected associ- 
ate principal, and filled that office from the autumn of 1837, but re- 
signed the next year, to take charge of the Abbott Female Academy, 
at Andover, Mass. The number of pupils at Plymouth, the first year, 
was two hundred, and during the second, two hundred and forty-eight. 
The seminary was pre-eminently successful. But, after nearly three 
years, the expectation of the ample funds that had been relied on 
failed. Reverses in business on the part of others, also, made it evi- 
dent that the trustees must fail of ability to sustain the school, vrith 
an efficient board of teachers ; and the principal resigned his office. 
His health had been materially benefitted by change of residence, and 
but for the pecuniary embarrassments of the Board, he would have 
continued to consecrate his powers to the education of teachers, and 
the advancement of popular education. He had, however, devoted 
seventeen years to the work of "teaching teachers;" had originated 
many improvements in the mode of conducting schools, — had seen a 
new era commence in the educational advancement of the country, 
and was permitted to rejoice in the success of many teachers who had 
been trained under his guidance. He felt that his personal efforts 
were no longer essential in tliat field of labor. Seminaries were es- 
tablished, and other arrangements made in many places, for educating 
teachers, and would, he believed, soon become accessible to a large 

*The design of the serninacy and course of study, stated in the catalogue for 
1838, were as follows; — "This seminary has been founded with the hope of im- 
proving popular education, by elevating the character of teachers. The trustees 
have three prominent objects in view: 1. To educate Teachers for common 
and other schools ; 2. To fit students for college ; 3. To furnish the means for a 
thorough English education. The original design of making Theology promi- 
nent has, on account of circumstances, been modified. The school embraces a 
department for males, and one for females. The academic year is at present di- 
vided into four terms, of eleven weeks each. The course of study in the Teach- 
ers' Department requires four years in the Male Department, and three in the 
Female Department; with the exception of one term each year, during which the 
members may be absent to teach school. Studies are pursued according to tho 
following schedules: — 



Fall Term. — English Grammar and Intellectual Arithmetic. 

Whiter Term. — History United States ; Watts on the Mind ; Geography, commenced. 
Spring Term. — English Grnraniar and Arithmetic, completed; Geography, (U. S.) 
Summer Term. — History of England; Watts on the Mind, reviewed; Geography, 
completed ; Exercises weekly in Singing. 


Fall Term. — Arithmetic and Grammar, rei;zeu;e(Z; Construction of Maps ; Physiology, 
(with lectures.) 

Spring Term. — Natural Philosophy, (with lectures;) Rhetoric; Botany, (with lec- 

Summer Term. — Book-keeping, (by double entry ;) Logic. 


number of those \vlio designed to enter that responsible vocation. 
Much as he had always " loved teaching," he loved the work of the 
ministry more, and consented again to be a candidate for the pastoral 
office. Of several invitations immediately received, he chose, for vari- 
ous reasons, to accept a call from the church and congTegation at 
Craftsbury, Vermont. This town, in Orleans County, beautifully 
situated in the Y of the Green Mountains, is remarkably healthy, and 
contained a very intelligent society. The " Craftsbury Academy" in 
the town had long been a flourishing school. With a call from the 
church, he received, also, an appointment as principal of the academy, 
but with the expectation, on the part of the trustees, that he would 
employ assistant instructors to do most of the routine school work. 
By this arrangement, he hoped still to advance the interests of educa- 
tion, while, at the same time, his principal energies would be copse- 
crated to the work of the ministry. 

Mr. Ilall accordingly removed to Craftsbury, in May, 1840, and, — 
true, still, to his early convictions and impulses, — at once organized a 
Teachers' Department in the x\cademy, in addition to a Classical and 
General Department. It was thought advisable that the course of 
study in the Teachers' Department should, at first, occupy but three 
years, the county being comparatively new, and the means for obtain- 
ing an education more limited than in older portions of the country. 
The school was more numerously attended than Ke had expected, 
from its retired location. A respectable number entered the depart- 
ment for teachers. 

During the following yeai-s, a great increase of religious interest in 
Mr. Hall's parish made it impracticable for him to devote so much of 
his time to the school, and, in 1846, he resigned the care of it 
wholly ; — except giving lectures to the students on the Art of Teach- 
ing, and on other subjects. 

From that date to the present time, Mr. Hall has had little direct 
connection with the educational interests of the state, except to dis- 
charge the duties of county superintendent of common schools, and 
to co-operate with a county association of teachei-s, and a county 
natural and civil historical society. Of the latter he is now presi- 
dent. While the office of state superintendent of schools was con- 
tinued, he was associated with that officer in conducting teachers' 
institutes, in several counties. 

He retained his connection with the church at Craftsbury until 
1854, when, in consequence of impaired health, he solicited a release; 
and during the following year was installed at Brownington, in the 
same county, a parish of less extent, where he is now discharging the 
duties of a New England pastor. 


It may readily be inferred, from the preceding sketch, tliat Mr. 
IlaU's studies, self-prompted and self-guided as be was in early life, 
and in working his way to his best conclusions, have been industriously 
pushed in more than one direction. His love of geology and natural 
history and his familiarity with those subjects, especially as the actual 
facts had come under his observation, led to his employment in the 
geological survey of Vermont for several seasons, and he is understood 
to be under a similar engagement for another year, as an assistant 
of Dr. Hitchcock. During the last four or five years, he has devoted 
his spare time to inquiries and collections for a work on the early his- 
tory of Northern Vermont and the natural liistory of Orleans County, 
which is nearly ready for publication under the auspices of the 
"Natural and Civil Historical Society," of which he is president. 

As a tribute to Mr. Hall's attainments and services, the trustees of 
Dartmouth College, some years ago, conferred on him the honorary 
degree of Master of Arts. 


James G. Carter, to whom more than to any other one person, 
belongs the credit of having first arrested the attention of the lead- 
ing minds of Massachusetts, to the necessity of immediate and 
thorough improvement in the system of free or public schools, and 
of having clearly pointed out the most direct and thorough mode of 
procuring this improvement, by providing for the training of compe- 
tent teachers for these schools, was born in Leominster, Massachu- 
setts, Sept. 'Zth, 1795. His father's house was on the family home- 
stead, firet settled by his grandfather, in 1744, and on a rise of land 
cnlled, from the owner's name, Carter's Hill. 

Up to the age of seventeen he lived the ordinary life of a New 
England farmer's son ; alternating between the summer's work and 
the winter's schooling, which was all the education that his father's 
means would allow. At that age he quietly formed the resolution of 
paying his own way through a preparatory course, at Groton Acad- 
emy, then under the care of that well-known and respected teacher, 
Caleb Butler, and a collegiate course at Harvard College ; which ho 
accomplished, earning his money by teaching district school and sing- 
ing school, and by occasional lectures upon the mysteries of their 
craft before masonic lodges. 

He was always on good terms with his class-mates, and among the 
foremost in his studies. His most intimate friend among them all 
was the celebrated Warren Colburn. Indeed, much of the methodiz- 
ing of Mr. Colburn's ^^First Lessons in Arithmetic,'" was derived from 
the author's constant consultations with Mr. Carter, who discussed 
and decided with him, among other questions, that whether problems 
of a concrete nature should precede the more abstract. The conclu- 
sion was that they should. 

Mr. Carter graduated at Harvard, in 1820, having spent the pre- 
ceding winter in teaching at Cohasset, Mass. The school was com- 
posed chiefly of young seamen, who improved the Avinter months in 
searching for a " northern passage " to learning. They had mutinied 
under several former teachers, and Mr. Carter's services were secured 
because of his reputation in discipline. Many of the pupils were 
lai'ger and older than the master — but the resolute eye, and self-pos- 
sessed manner of the latter as he took his seat at the desk, and after 






a few words, began to read aloud from a book which lay before him, 
arrested the attention, and excited the interest of the former, and 
formed the first link in a chain of influences by which he secured 
their ready obedience, and devout attachment. The pupils and the 
committee, at the close of the term, united in a letter of thanks for 
his valuable services to the district. 

On leaving college, Mr. Carter opened a private school, in Lan- 
caster, Mass., where he received into his own family many "sus- 
pended " students from Harvard College, and correcting the errors 
and supplying the defficiencies in the education, both moral and in- 
tellectual, of this class of pupils, he had an opportunity of pursuing 
still further the study of the great subject of instruction, and matur- 
ing his own views as to the thorough and radical improvement of 
schools. To his mind education developed itself as a science, and 
teaching as an art, and to the dissemination of correct views on these 
points, he addressed himself with the enthusiasm of an original 
thipker, and a practical man. 

Ilis first publication in behalf of popular education appeared in the 
Boston newspapers, in 1821, and from time to time through the same 
channel, until 1824, when he issued, in a pamphlet of one hundred 
and twenty-three pages, his ^''Letters to the Hon. William Prescott^ 
LL. D., on the Free Schools of New England^ with Remarks en the 
Principles of Instruction.^'' In these letters, Mr. Carter traces the 
Jiistory of the legislature of Massachusetts, respecting free* or public 
schools — points out the condition of the schools, and dwells on the 
depressing influence which the establishment of academies and private 
schools, and the neglect of public grammar or town schools had ex- 
erted on the common schools. The original school policy of Massachu- 
setts contemplated the establishment in every large town of at least 
one school of a higher grade of studies than the district school, with 
a teacher of college qualifications, so as to bring the means of pre- 
paring for college within the reach of the poor, and, at the same time, 
of qualifying teachers for the district schools. By degrees the require- 
ments of the law were relaxed, until by degrees the place of the tow^n 
grammar school was tilled by an incorporated academy. In view 
of this state of things, Mr. Carter remarks : — 

What would our ancestors have thought of their posterity, those ancestors, 
who, nearly two hundred years since, amidst all the embarrassments of a new set- 
tlement, provided by law for the support of grammar schools in all towns of one 
hundred families, " the master thereof being able to instruct youth so far as they 

* In the early legislation of New England. /ree schools meant endowed schools, and gen- 
erally, schools intended for instruction in Latin and Greek. They were intended to occupy 
the place of the grammar schools of Ensfland. The name was afterward given indiscrimin- 
ately to elementary and grammar s<:hools. 


may be fittecl for tlio university ?" or what would our fatliers have thought of their 
children, those fathers who, in 1780, enjoined it in their constitution, upon "the 
letjislatures and magistrates, in all future periods of this commonwealth, to cherish 
the interests of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them ; especially 
the University at Cambridge, public schools, and grammar schools in the towns ;" 
if they could have foreseen, that after one relaxation and another, in forty years, 
those children would so far forget their duty to " cherish the grammar schools," 
as to strilie them out of existence ? What the peculiar condition of the people of 
this state is, which renders the support (tf this class of schools unnecessary, im- 
politic, or unjust, I have never been able to understand. And, although 1 have 
been at some pains on the subject, I have never yet learned what the arguments 
were, which carried the repeal of the law through the last general court. Argu- 
ments there mu!?t have been, and strong ones, or such an alarming innovation 
would never have been sufferef], upon an institution, to which the people, till quite 
lately, have always expressed the strongest attachment. Was that class of schools 
considered unnecessary ? If so, what has n)ade them unnecessary ? Either the 
people have no longer need to receive the kind of instruction those schools were in- 
tended to aff()rd, or they must receive the same instruction in some other way. The 
policy, and in our government, the neces.sity of eliciting the talents of the country, 
by every possible means, will be demonstrated when we consider how many of 
our most distinguished jurists, statesmen, and divines, have received their early 
instruction in the primary and grammar schools of some obscure coun^fy village. 
None, I believe, can be found, who will say the people have no longer need of 
such facilities for bringing forward to notice the promising talents of their chil- 
dren, and of giving to our country some of its greatest benefact<»i-s. Tlieu by 
abolishing the grammar schools, it is expected the people will receive the same in- 
struction in some other way. But two ptissible sources occur, which promise in 
any degree to supply the chasm in the system. The primary schools on the one 
hand, and the academies on the other. Neither of these sources will answer 
the expectation, or be adequate to the purpose. The primary schools vi^ill not 
come up to the necessary standard, either as they are contemplatcil by the law, 
or as they are, and promise to be, supported by the people. And the academies 
are out of the reach of precisely that class of people who most need the encour- 
agement offered by the late granmiar schools. The effect of the repeal of the 
law upon the primary scliools, is as yet, but matter of conjecture. It is probably 
expected by some, and it is certainly to be hoped by all, that striking from the 
system the class of schools Immediately above them, they will be improved so as 
in some degree to supply the place of the higher schools. If this expectation had 
any foundation, or if there were any probability it would be realized in some good 
degree, it would not be so much a matter of regret, that the late measure was 
adopted. But several reasons induce me to believe that the expectation is 
altogether visionary ; and that the measure will have a tendency to sink, rather 
than improve, the condition of the primary schools. 

But it may, perhai)s, be said, the qualifications of the instructoi's are as high, for 
all practical and useful purposes, as they were under the former law, as it was 
executed. In the first place, it is not fair or just to reason from the law as -it was 
executed^ rather than as it should Juive been executed. In the next place, allow- 
ing ourselves so to reason, we shall not, I believe, arrive at the same result. The 
qualification of the grammar schoolmasters were, that they should be "of good 
morals, well instructed in T^tin, Greek, and P^nglish languages." This class of 
sch(K>ls is now abolished, and "geography'' is added to the former qualifications 
of the teachers of pritnary schools. Allowing the two classes of schools to have 
been perfectly amalgamated, which is a great concession in point of fact, as well 
as acknowledging a great perversion of the law ; we have dispensed with Latin 
and Greek, and require geography in their stead. I have no desire to lessen the 
estimation in which geography is held as a study peculiarly adapted to our pri- 
mary schools. And I am ready to concede, that probably ten will wish to study 
geography where one would wish to study Ljitin and Greek. Now, if an in- 
structor, who is qualified to teach Latin and Greek, could not by any possibility 
be qualified, at the same time, to teach geography, and all the minor studies of our 
schools, I should consider myself as having conceded the whole argument. But 
this is not the fact. These qualifications are so far from being incompatible, that 



they generally exist in a superior degree in connection with each other. The 
connection, to be sure, is not so essential, that a man may not be a very good 
teacher of Latin and Greek, and still know very little of any thing else. Still, as 
the studies are arranged in all our schools, academies, and colleges, where young 
men are prepared for teachers, all the elementary studies, including geography, 
are generally taught before the languages. So that, by adding them to the quali- 
fications, even if it were vever required of the instructors to teach tliem, we in- 
sure more mature and accomplished scholars in those branches which are more 
frequently and generally taught. I would not be understood to discuss, much less 
to approve, this arrangement of studies for those destined to be scholars by pro- 
fession. Such arrangement exists, and I avail myself of the fact for my pres- 
ent purpose. But besides insuring better teachers for the common branches, 
there are always some who would attend to the languages, as preparatory to a 
public education, if they had opportunity. And, if affording the opportunity to 
all of every town, should be the means of drawing out but few of superior talents, 
even those few are worthy of the highest consideration and regard from the pub- 
he who possess them. These and similar considerations, which I can not here 
state, have convinced me, I know not whether they will convince any one else, 
that the repeal of the grammar school law, even if we could never hope it would 
be executed upon a more liberal construction than it has been for the last ten 
years, will have a direct tendency to sink the condition and prospects of the 
primary schools. 

As the academies are not entirely free schools, we can not calculate upon them 
to supply instruction to the mass of the people. These are most respectable 
establishments, and some of them are hardly inferior, in the advantages they af- 
ford for acquiring a thorough education, to some institutions which are dignified 
with the name of colleges. It is not desirable that their condition should be im- 
paired. Nor need any fears be entertained that their condition will be impaired. 
There are enough in the community who duly estimate the advantages of a good 
education, and who are able to sustain the expense of these schools to insure tlieir 
permanent support. And as the other classes of schools which are free, are an- 
nihilated or decline in their character and condition, the academies will be en- 
couraged by those who can better appreciate the advantages of good schools, and 
better at!brd the necessary expense. So far as it regards the accommodation and 
pecuniary interest of the rich, and those of moderate property, it is matter of in- 
difference, whether the legislature or public make any appropriations or provisions 
for schools or not. They can and will take care for themselves. These are not 
the classes of the community to suffer, when government withhold encouragement 
from the schools. It is the poor who are to suffer. They must educate their 
children m free schools, and in their own neighborhood, or not educate them at 
all. The expense of tuition, of books, and of board at the academies are so 
appalling, as to put the advantages of those schools quite beyond the povi'er of 
a vast proportion of the community. In the towns where academies happen to 
be fixed, the poor will of course derive some increased advantages; but these 
towns are so few compared with the whole, and the incident expenses for books 
and tuition are so considerable, that for all purposes of directly and eflliciently 
educating the whole mass of the people, the academies may be left out of calcula- 
tion. For not one in twenty, if one in fifty, throughout the state, will ever find 
their way to any of them. 

From the external organization of the system, Mr. Carter passes to 
the consideration of the defects of the schools, and the means of im- 

Two principal causes have operated from the first establishment of the free schools 
to impair and pervert their influence : incompetent instructors, and bad school 
books. It is not a little surprising, that a public so deeply impressed with the im- 
portance of the system of schools, and so resolved to carry it into full operation, 
by liberal appropriations, should stop short of their purpose, and stop precisely at 
that point, where the greatest attention and vigilance were essential to give cfficaoy 
to the whole. I do not mean that much good has not been realized ; on the con- 
trary, as has been repeatedly remarked, the success of the free school system is 


just cause of congratulation ; but I mean that their influence has not been the 
greatest and the best which the 8a7ne means, under better management, might 

The employment of incompetent and inexperienced instructors has probably 
arisen more from the peculiar situation of the country, than from any negligtmee 
or indiftlrence on the subject. So many opportunities are open for industrious 
enterprise, that it has always been difficult to induce men to become permanent 
teachers. This evil, although a serious one, is one which can not at present be re- 
moved 5 but its bad effects may be more qualified, by raising the character and 
acquirements of instructors to a higher standard. The whole business of instruc- 
tion, with very few exceptions, has hitherto been performed by those who have 
felt little interest in the subject, beyond the immediate pecuniary compensation 
stipulated for their services. And even that has been too inconsiderable, to ren- 
der a want of success in the employment, a subject of much regret. This remark 
applies to almost all instructors, from the primary schools up to the higher schools ; 
and it has no very remote bearing even upon some of the instructors in our col- 
leges. Three cUisses of men have furnished the whole body of instructors. 

1st Those have undertaken to teach, who had no better reason for it, than 
that th.! employment is easier, and perhaps a little more profitable than labor. 
No doubt many excellent instructors belong to this class. A college education is 
by no means essential to a good teacher of a primary school. But it niubt be con- 
fesse<l, that many of this class have been most lamentably deficient in those liter- 
ary qualifications which are essential Ui any instructor; and, perhaps, still niore 
defic eat in their notions of decency and propriety, which never apprjjach to 
refinement in manners. In the same degree, the schools may be made a most 
efficient instrument for improving and elevating the skite of s(X;iety when under 
the direction of men who have themselves been properly ttiught, they may be the 
means of disseminating or perpetuating grossness in mannei-s, and vulgarity, when 
under the direction of different characters. 

2d. A second class are those who are acquiring, or have attsiined a public edu- 
cation ; and who assume the business of instruction as a temporary employment, 
either to afford a pecuniary emolument for the relief of immediate necessities, or 
to give themselves time t^) deliberate and eh(K)se some more agreeable and profit 
able profession. This is, probably, the most useful class of instructors; although 
their usefulne'ss is much impaired by a want of experience and engagedness in the 
business. The thought that the employment is temporary, and that their ultimate 
success in life is not much affected by their success as teachers, can not fail to 
weaken the motives to exertion, and discourage the sacrifices necessiiry to the suc- 
cessful teacher. The duties of the instructor are so arduous, under the most fa- 
vorable circumstances, that he needs all the motives to perseverence, which ex- 
clusive devotion to the businiss or self-interest can suggest, liis prospects of 
happiness and respectability in life, therefore, should be more identified with his 
success as a teacher. 

3d. The third class is composed of those who, from conscious weakness, des- 
pair of success in any other profession, or who have been more thoroughly con- 
vinced, by unfortunate experiment, that they can not attain distinction, perhaps 
even subsistence, by any other means. There may no doubt be found individuals 
among this class who are respectable and useful instructors. But as a class, they 
are the most exceptionable of the three. To develop the powers of the human 
mind, in the most successful manner, requires a discrimination and judgment 
which it seldom falls to the lot of men of indifferent talents to possess. In the 
science of instruction there is full scope for the best talents, and largest acquire- 
ments. All the elevated qualities, either of mind or heart, which are necessary 
to insure success in any of the professions, are essential to the accomplished in- 
structor. And some qualities are required which are not so important in any 
other profession. How can he hope to arrange and adapt the studies of a child, 
so as to call forth and strengthen the different powers of the mind, in their natural 
order, and in the most successful manner, who is not capable of enumerating 
those powers; much less of analyzing them and understimding their mutual re- 
lations and dependencies. Such, however, is the present condition of our country, 
so numerous are the demands for instructors in the primary and higher schools, 
and so various are the private interests which will be felt in the selection of 



them, that it is, probably, too much to expect all to have the discrimination neces- 
sary, in order to become accurate and original observers of the phenomena of the 
youtliful mind. Jiut we have much to hope from those who can belter appreciate 
the importance of a correct system from instruction, from the encouragement of 
individuals, and the patronage of those large towns which carry education to its 
greatest perfection. It is to these sources we must look for the first examples in 

A large portion of the ^''Letters'''' was devoted to an advocacy of 
tlie introduction of the principles of inductive logic into all the dif- 
ferent branches of education, which he illustrates by examples of in- 
ductive teaching in the languages, in geography, and in arithmetic; 
the last as exhibited in W. Colburn's ''First LessonsP The ''Let- 
ters'''' conclude with the following anticipations of the progress of edu- 
cation in this country : — 

The science of instruction is the sphere, and our country is the place for free 
and unembarrassed exertion. Hope certjvinly drives us a bright and animating 
prospect in the distance. The subject of education has never excited so deep and 
lively an interest, in every part of our country, as at present. If this interest can 
be directed by the wisdom and experience of the more enli^tened, it can not 
fail of a great and happy effect. The importance of the subject has long since 
been felt ; the time has come when attention should be turned to the nature of 
it. We may then hope for those improvements of which the subject is suscepti- 
ble ; and those splendid results in the state of society, which the more ardent and 
philanthropic anticipate. But science now sits solemn in her temple afar off. 
The ways of approach are dark and devious. A few votaries only, by chance or 
untired perseverance, gain access, till, at the expense of half their lives, they are 
warned by experience, like an inspiration from above, to become as little children, 
that they may enter. But when the influence of education is more duly esti- 
mated, and when the cultivation of the head and heart shall be united, and form 
one distinct and dignified profession, drawing to its practice the greatest and best 
of men ; we may then hope a proper direction will be given to the opening minds 
and expanding hearts of the young; and that all the deep and permanent pre- 
possessions of childhood and youth, will be upon the side of truth and virtue. 
Science, philosophy, and religion will then be blended with their very natures, 
to grow with their growth, and strengthen with their strength. The wiiole earth 
will then constitute but one beautiful temple, in which may dwell in peace all man- 
kind ; and their lives form but one consistent and perpetual worship. 

The publication of the "Xe/^^rs" was followed in the winter of 
1824-25, by a series of "Essays upon Popular Education,^'' over the 
signature of Franklin, in the Boston Patriot, in which Mr. Carter 
aimed to present the condition, and the means of improving its pub- 
lic schools, in a manner to be appreciated by the people. These 
essays attracted a large measure of public attention, as originally pub- 
lished, and when issued in a pamphlet of sixty pages, in 1826, under 
the title of " Essays upon Popular Education ; containing a par- 
ticular examination of the Schools of Massachusetts^ and an out- 
li}ze for an Institution for the Education of Teachers" In this 
series of essays he first gave to the public his plan of a teachers' 
seminary. These essays, and particularly his views on the principles 
of education as a science, and his outline of an institution for the 
education of teachers, attracted much attention. They were very 


ably and favorably rev^iewed in the Literary Gazette, edited by The- 
ophilus Parsons, and of which journal Mr. Carter was editor, in 
1826, and devoted a portion of the golumns to the advocacy of edu- 
cational improvements before the public. The essays were made the 
basis of an article in the North American Review, in 1827, by Prof. 
Ticknor, and through that article his plan was made known to the 
English public. Prof. Bryce, in his ^^ Sketch of a Plan for a System 
of National Education for Ireland^'' published in London, in 1828, 
speaks of the "outline," as the "first regular publication on the 
subject of the professional education of teachers which he had 
heard of." 

In the preface to the "-£'s5ay5," Mr. Carter pointed out the disastrous 
consequences of the neglect of timely legislation in behalf of free or 
public schools. 

The free schools, strange as it may seem, had received almost no legislative at- 
tention, proteetioqi or bounty, for nearly forty years. Of course, instead of taking 
the lead in improvement, as they should have done, they remained as nearly sta- 
tionary as any institution can remain, in such an age and such a state of society, 
as those in which we live. Some men of longer foresight, and many, whose in- 
terest in the subject was quickened by their having families to educate, saw and 
lamented this state of things •, but, as it was less trouble, on the whole, to build 
up schools of their own, than to reform thf)se already in existence, they sent in 
their petitions to the legislature in great profusion for actsof incorporation, and 
for pecuniary assistance to enable them to establish academies under their own 
direction. These petitions were usually granted ; and donations, small ones to be 
sure, were made to further their objects. But the obvious tendency of this course 
of legislation was to help directly those citizens who least needed help, and to en- 
courage precisely that class of schools which, if they were necessary, would 
spring up spontaneously without the aid of legislative bounty. 

Within a few years, even these higher schools, from their unwieldy organiza- 
tion, have ceased to afford such instruction as the public require ; and private es- 
tablishments begin now to take the lead of them. Thus have we departed more 
and more widely from the principle assumed by our fathers in the establishment 
of the free schools, viz., to provide as good instruction in all elementary and com- 
mon branches of knowledge for the poorest citizen in the commonwealth as the 
richest could buy with all his wealth. Advancement upon advancement has been 
made by a few, while the mass, who are less vigilant, remain as they were, with 
only the unconsoling advantage of a little reflected light sent back by those who 
have gone before them. 

The influence of academies on the free or public schools is thus 
pointed out, and the expenence of every New England state, both 
before and since, confirms the justice of Mr. Carter's view : — 

One influence, which they undoubtedly have had, has been to prepare young 
instructors some better than they could be prepared in the town schools them- 
selves. This is a good influence. And if the same object could not be attained 
much belter by other means, it would deserve great consideration in estimating 
the utility which we are to expect from those establishments for the future. But 
the preparation of instructors for the free schools never formed a part of the 
original design of the academies. They were intended to afford instruction in 
other and higher branches of education than those usually taught in the free 
schools ; and not merely to give better instruction in the same branches. Much 
less did it come within the wide scope of their purposes to give instruction in the 
science of teaching generally. So that the little good derived from them in this 
respect is only incidental. 

414 JAMES G. CARTER. 189 

But the acailemics have had another influence upon the public town schools, 
which has much impaired tht-ir usefulness, and, if not soon checked, it will ulti- 
mately destroy them. This influence, operating for a series of years, has led 
already to the abandonment of a part of the free school system, and to a depre- 
ciation in the character and prospects of the remaining part. And it is working, 
not slowly, the destruction of the vital principle of the institution, more valuable 
to us tlian any other, for the preservation of enlightened freedom. The perni- 
cious influence, to which I allude, will be better understood by taking an exam- 
ple of its operation on a small scale ; and then extending the same principle of 
examination to the whole state, or to New England. 

Take any ten (contiguous towns in the interior of this commonwealth, and sup- 
pose an academy to be placed in the center of them. An academy, as I have 
before observed, commonly means a corporation, with a township of land in 
Maine, given them by the state, and a pretty convenient house, built generally 
by the patriotic subscriptions of those who expect to use it ; the instructor being 
supported, chiefly or altogether, by a separate tax on the scholars. In each of 
these ten towns, select the six individuals, who have families to educate, who set 
the highest value on early education, and who are able to defray the expenses of 
the best which can be had, either in a private school among themselves, or at the 
academy, which, by the supposition, is in their neighborhood. Now of what im- 
niediate consequence can it be to the six families of each town, or to the sixty 
fomilies of the ten towns, whether there be such a thing as a free school in the 
commonwealth or not ! They have a general interest in them to be sure, because 
they have themselves been there instructed, and the early associations of child- 
hood and youth are strong ; and they have a sort of speculative belief, if it be not 
rather an innate sentiment, that free schools make a free people. But how are 
their own particular, personal, and immediate interests affected? Without any 
libel upon good nature, these are the main springs to human actions. These are 
the motives which find their way soonest to the human heart, and influence most 
powerfully and steadily the opinions of men, and the conduct founded upon and 
resulting from them. 

As soon as difficulties and disagreements, in regard to the free schools, arise, 
as they necessai-ily must, upon various topics ; such as, the amount of money to 
be raised, the distribution of it among flie several districts, the manner of appro- 
priation, whether it be to the "summer schools" or to the " winter schools," to 
pay an instructor from this family or from that family, of higher qualifications or 
of lower qualifications, of this or that political or religious creed, or a thousand 
other questions which are constantly occurring ; if any of our six families hnppen 
to be dissatisfied or disgusted with any course which may be adopted, they will, 
immediately, abandon the free schools, and provide for the education of their 
children in their own way. They may organize a private school, for their own 
convenience, upon such principles as they most approve. Or, they may send their 
scholars, at an expense trifling to them, to the academy in their neighborhood. 
Well, what if they do ? The free schools remain, all taxes arc paid cheerfully 
for their support, and the number of scholars is lessened. What is the evil of 
their sending their children somewhere else to be educated ? We should, at first, 
suppose that it would be an advantage ; inasmuch as the amount of money to be 
expended would be left the same, and the number of pupils to receive the benefit 
of it would be considerably diminished. 

But the evils of this course, and of the general policy of the state government, 
which has led to it, are very serious ones. When the six individuals of any 
country town, who are, by the supposition, first in point of wealth and interest in 
the subject, and who will generally be also first in point of intelligence and influ- 
ence in town affliirs, withdraw their children from the common schools ; there 
are, at the same time, withdrawn a portion of intelligence from their direction, 
and heartfelt interest from their support. This intelligence is needed, to manage 
the delicate and important concerns of the schools. And this heartfelt interest is 
needed, to lead the way to improvements, to stimulate and encourage larger and 
larger appropriations, and to insure vigilance in their expenditure. Patriotism 
and philanthropy are dull motives to exertions for the improvement of common 
schools compared with parental affection. And this quickening power has gone 
off to the academies or somewhere else-with the children, who are the objects 
of it. 


Look at the operation of this influence of the academies upon the free schools, 
on a still smaller scale. Examine the condition of the latter in the very towns 
where academies are placed ; and where, if their influence be a happy one, we 
should expect to find the common schools in the best condition. What is the 
fact? From observation and from information, collected from authentic sources, 
the assertion may be hazarded that the condition of the free schools will be found, 
on examination, to be worse, far worse, in those towns than in any others. And it 
is for this plain reason : because those who can barely afford the expense of tuition, 
will send their children to the academy, which the state or benevolent individuals 
have built up for their accommodation, and give themselves no further trouble 
about the free schools, but to pay the tax-bill for their support, when it is pre- 

Thus the men, who would have the most interest in the subject, the most in- 
telligence and the most leisure to conduct the concerns of the town schools, secede 
from them, and join themselves to other institutions. Abolish the academy and 
leave these six families of each town to the free schools alone, and you would find 
all their powers assiduously employed to put them in the best condition possible. 
Or rather put the free 8ch(x)ls in a state to afford as good instruction as the acade- 
mies now do, and you would supersede, in a great degree, the necessity of them. 
And it is apprehended that it would be quite easy to place them upon a footing 
to give even better instruction, at least in all the elementary branches of a com- 
mon education, than the academies now give or ever have given. 

In 1827, Mr. Carter presented a memorial to the legislature, pray- 
ing for aid in the establishment of a seminary for the education of 
teachers, with a model school attached. The memorial was favorably 
reported on by a committee, of which the Hon. \Yilliam B. Calhoun, 
of Springfield, Mass., was chairman, and a bill, making an appropria- 
tion, was lost by one vote in the senate. In that year, the town of 
Lancaster appropriated a portion of land, and the use of an academy 
building, to aid him in carrying out his plan as a private enterprise. 
He purchased several dwelling-houses, to accommodate his pupils and 
teachers with lodgings and board, hired assistants, who were to be 
taught by himself on his plan, and opened his school. Within a few 
months after his school opened, the people of Lancaster, who did not 
comprehend the full and ultimate public benefits of the new institu- 
tion, began to manifest opposition, and threw such obstacles in his 
way, that he was obliged to abandon his project, as a public enter- 
prise, after having embarrassed himself by his pecuniary outlays for 
buildings and teachers. He, however, continued to give instruction 
for many years afterward to private pupils, many of whom are now 
successful teachers in different parts of the Union. 

In 1830, Mr. Carter assisted in the establishment of the American 
Institute of Instruction, of which he was for many years an officer 
and an active member. At its first session he delivered a lecture on 
" the development of the intellectual faculties ;' and, in 1831, he gave 
another on " the necessity and most practicable means of raising the 
qualifications of teachers." 

In 1835, and for several years afterward, he was a member of the 
legislature ; for three years, of the house of representatives ; and, in 
1838-39, of the senate ; and, in that position, as chairman of the 



committee on education, drafted several able reports and bills, to pro- 
mote the cause of educational improvement. During his first term, 
he secured the appropriation of three hundred dollars a year in aid 
of the objects of the American Institute of Instruction. In the same 
session he submitted an elaborate report in favor of *' an act to pro- 
vide for the better instruction of youth, employed in manufacturing 
establishments," — which the Hon. Rufus Choate characterized as "a 
measure of large wisdom and expanded benevolence, which makes it 
practicable and safe for Massachusetts to grow rich by manufacture 
and by art." In 1836, as chairman of the same committee, he re- 
ported a bill for the appointment of a superintendent of common 
schools, and advocated the establishment of a seminary for the pro- 
fessional education of teachers. 

In 1837, Mr. Carter made a vigorous effort in the house to secure 
the appropriation of one-half of the United States surplus revenue, 
for the education of common school teachers. His speech, on the 
second of February, for this object, is an able exposition of the claims 
of free schools for efficient and liberal legislation, and of the necessity 
of an institution devoted exclusively to the appropriate education of 
teachers for them. His amendment Avas lost; but he had the satis- 
faction, at a later period of the session, to draft the bill establishing 
the Board of Education, which was adopted. 

Unfortunately for the cause of popular education, and his own per- 
manent reputation as a teacher and educator, Mr. Carter was drawn 
away from his school and his study, to plunge into the noisy discus- 
sions of politics, and to become involved in the crash of financial 
speculations and disasters. By so doing he exposed his good name 
to the detraction and persecution of men w^hose enmity he had pro- 
voked by pecuniary losses and the too strenuous advocacy of tem- 
perance and other reformatory movements of the day. Great as 
were the services rendered to public schools by his pen and his voice, — 
by pamphletand by legislation, — his pre-eminent practical talents might 
have achieved larger results in the organization and administration 
of schools of different grades, and his clear, vigorous, logical intellect 
might have poured floods of light over the whole field of education. 

Mr. Carter was married, in May, 1827, to Miss Anne M. Packard, 
daughter of Rev. Asa Packard, formerly of Lancaster. He was a 
confiding, sympathizing husband, and his wife was entirely worthy 
of his confidence and love. To his only child, a daughter, he was at 
once father, brother, and teacher. Whatever were his own cares and 
burdens, they never made him forgetful of his family. He was the 
light and warmth of his home ; no eclipse was ever visible there. Mr. 
Carter died at Chicago, on the 21st of July, 1849. 







To the Hon. Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of 
Massachusetts, in General Court assembled, the undersigned begs leave most 

respectfully to represent : — 

That he is about to open a seminary in a central part of the state, for the gener- 
al instruction of children and j'outh of both sexes, and also for the particular in- 
struction of those who may resort to him for that purpose, in the science of edu- 
cation; or in the best means of developing the physical, moral, and intellectual 
powers of the young by judicious and wholesome exercise of those powers, and, 
at a subsequent period, of conveying to their minds the greatest amount of useful 

In regard to the department for general purposes, first above named, your me- 
morialist believes that the public demand for a more practical education than is 
commonly afforded by our schools and colleges in their present state has become 
so strong and decided as to render it safe for indivi<lual enterprise to attempt to 
answer that demand. And he would not now ask the attention of your honor- 
able body to that part of his plan further than to observe that, in his view, it may, 
without prejudice to itself, be made greatly subservient to the department for the 
education of teachers. 

The necessity of some systematic preparation of instructors of youth, before 
they enter upon their duties, is so obvious, upon the slightest consideration ; and 
the want of tejichers, better qualified to govern and instruct our common schools 
than our present means are adequate to supply, has been so severely felt in every 
part of the state ; that your memorialist believes it would even be safe for indi- 
vidual enterprise to enter upon that department, to a limited extent. But, as 
no seminary for this purpose has, to his knowledge, been established in this 
country ; and as the establishment t»f one would necessarily require the invest- 
ment of a considerable capital, as well as the expense of much valuable time, in 
order to conduct it so as to produce the best results ; its advantages, even upon 
the most economical arrangement that can be made, must be put at a price above 
the ability of large and important classes of the community to pay. In this view 
of the subject, it has occurred to your memorialist, that if your honorable body — 
the chosen guardians of those schools which contain, at this and every moment, 
one-third of the whole population of the state — would extend to private enter- 
prise a moderate amount of public patronage, it would so far diminish the necessary 
expenses of the institution to individuals, as to open its doors to all who would 
aspire to the responsible employment of teachers of youth. 

By this union of private and public means — by private enterprise controlled by 
public wisdom — your memorialist believes that a seminary for the education of 
teachers might be at once commenced upon a scale more commensurate with its 
importance to the community, more adequate to the public demands for better 
instruction, more in keeping with the fundamental principle of the free schools, 
and more consonant with the whole spirit of our free institutions, 

James G. Carter. 

The Committee, of which Hon. William B. Calhoun, of Spring- 
field, was chairman, submitted the following 


The Select Committee, to whom was referred " so much of His Excellency 
the Governor's Message as relates to the subject of a Seminary for the Instruc- 
tion cf School Teachers," and to whom was also referred the memorial of James 
G. Carter, upon the same subject, respectfully report the accompanying bill. 



Thoy also ask leave to report further, that althoun;h legislative enactment upon 
the subject submitted to their eonsideraiioii be entirely new, yet the attention of 
tiio eutuni unity litis been so repeatedly ealltd to it, that public opinion eoncerning 
it may with safety be said ah-cady to have become unquestionably settled. Dis- 
cussions in regard to it have been carried on for a considerable period past in 
this and the neighboring states. 

At first, the views taken of it were necessarily indefinite; and, although the 
sentiment has become general that an institution for the instruction of school- 
teachers would be of incalculable benetit, yet, as no one had developed a plan, by 
which the object could be accomplished, the whole subject seemed to be im- 
pressed with a visionary and impracticable character. Recently, however, at- 
tetnpts hjive been made, and, as your committee believe, with great success, to 
reduce these general views to a standard of piaetical utility. Men have been in- 
duced to bestow their thoughts upon the subject, who — from their situation in 
the community — from their acquaintance with the science and practice of educa- 
tion — from their deep sense of the wants of the public, made apparent more par- 
ticularly by the failure of many successive attempts to improve the character and 
elevate the standard of the free schools — and from the loud complaints which have 
been uttered on all sides, of the deficiency of good schoolmasters — might very 
naturally have been selected as specially fitted to examine and investigate the sub- 
ject, and to apply the proper remedies. The consequence has been, that several 
plans of a school of instruction, for the purposes contemplated, have already 
been presented to the public ; and your committee have very fortunately been 
able|o avail themselves of the fruits of extensive researches in the premises. 

The committee have had their attention called more particularly to the state- 
ments and explanations of the memorialist, whose petition has been before them. 
From a mature consideration of his plan of instruction, they are unanimously of 
opinion, that it is entirely practical in its character, simple in its details, and pecul- 
iarly calculated to develop the powers of the mind, and that the studies it re- 
quires are brought whc^lly and appropriately within the pale of downright utility. 
It is unnecessary here to go beyond a mere outline. 

The attention of the student is to be called primarily to a course of reading upon 
the subject of education : he is to be instructed thoroughly in all the branches 
pertaining to his profession, i)articularly in all that portion of solid learning calcu- 
lated to fit him to communicate the knowledge required in the common free 
schwds in the country. A peculiar character of usefulness will be stamped upon 
the institution proposed, by connecting with it an experimentJil school, consisting 
entirely of young children, pursuing the ordinary routine of instruction. Here the 
student will see the whole course of management and discipline requisite in a 
school, placed obviously and palpably before him. Theory and practice will thus 
be intimately blended, and the student be led gradually into a knowledge of his 
appropriate duties, in precisely the same manner in which tact and capacity are 
acquired in all the other pursuits of life. Indeed, the institution contemplated 
amounts simply to an attempt to bring the business of school-teaching into a sys- 
tem, from which it has heretofore alone and most unaccountably been excluded. 

Whilst the committee incline to the opinion, that this institution should be de- 
tached entirely from all other pursuits, and be devoted wholly and distinctly to 
the simple object in view, they would not be considered as deciding definitely 
that it could not be safely connected with some of the literary establishments of 
the state. Some undoubted advantages, particularly those of concentrated effort 
and action, will', in the opinion of the committee, give an institution of the former 
character a decided superiority over one of the latter description. In all proba- 
bility, the wants of the public will require both to be resorted to. 

In regard to details generally on the subject, the committee believe they may 
with great propriety be left to the discretion and judgment of the Board of Com- 
missioners, whose appointment is provided for in the accompanying bill. A suffi- 
cient object will now be gained, if the legislature can be satisfied that the plan, in 
its character and principles, is feasible and practicable. Its simplicity can not but 
be seen to be particularly distinguishing. 

It needs .at this time neither argument nor an exhibition of facts, to demonstrate 
to the legislature, that the free schools of the commonwealth are not such as the)' 
ought to be — that they fail, most essentially, of accomplishing the high objects for 


which thoy were established, and toward the support of which so large an amount 
of money is annually raised amongst the people. Upon this subject public opin- 
ion is fully settled. 

Xor is there any difficulty in arriving at the true cause. Can it, in the large 
majority of cases, be traced to any other than the incompetency of teachers ? 
And in this fact there is nothing mysterious. Can the teachers be otherwise than 
incompetent, when no pains are taken to instruct them in the business of their 
profession — when, in one word, they are not reputed or constituted a profession? 

The great and leading object of school-teachers should be, to learn how to 
communicate knowledge ; yet, although the statutes of the sUite require them to 
be thoroughly examined as to their qualifications, it is hardly necessary to remark, 
that their capabilities in reference to the important object alluded to are, and must 
be, fiom the very nature of the thing, kept entirely out of sight. And this state 
of things must, in the opinion of the committee, continue, and indeed grow vvoi-se 
and worse, until some provision is made for bringing about an end of so much 

The several towns in the commonwealth are obliged by law to raise money for 
the sup[X)rt of scho<jls : the sums contributed by the people for this purpose are 
of immense amount. Is it not, beyond question, the sacred duty of the legisla- 
ture to see to it, that these contributions are made, in the highest possible degree, 
serviceable ? Ought it not, as a matter of coui-se, to be expected that the people will 
eom|tUiin, if the government are inactive and indifferent, where such is the stake ? 
In what more suitiible and rational way can the government interpose, than in 
providing the means for furnishing the schools with competent instructors — and 
in encouraging the establishment of seminaries, whose object shall be to teach tho 
art of communicating knowledge ? 

Your committee ask the attention of the legislature to the ready patronage, 
which, in past time, has been extended to tlie interests of learning in the higher 
institutions. They dwell, and the legislature and the people whom they repre- 
sent can not but dwell, with proud satisfaction, upon the cheering recollections 
which the bare allusion can not fail to bring up. In time gone by, the fathers of 
the commonwealth have not been unmindful of the claims which tlie interests of 
literature have presented. These claims have not been disallowed. 

But it is obvious to remark, that the patronage of the state has heretofore uni- 
formly been extended to the higher institutions alone. No hearty interest has 
ever been manifested, at least in the form now contemplated, in the success and 
improvement of the free schools of the land. Your committee ask, and ask with 
great confidence, whether the time hjis not arrived, when an efficient and foster- 
ing hand should be held forth by the legislature to these important institutions? 
Tlie object in view, it will not be deemed invidious to remark, is not fur the bene- 
fit of the few, but v{ the many, of the whole. We call then the attention of the 
legislature to this pervading interest — the interest of the mass of the people ; wo 
ask them to cherish, encourage, and promote it; we ask them to let this commu- 
nity see that they are themselves in earnest in their endeavors to advance their 
true welfare. 

Nor can the influence of education in the maintenance of our republican insti- 
tutions here be overlooked. It is upon the diffiision of sound learning that we 
must mainly depend, if we mean to preserve these institutions healthful and en- 
during. These interests are intimately and deeply connected. But, for the great 
purposes in view, the learning to be diffused must be that which can be brought 
home to the business and bosom of every individual in the land. It is the every- 
day, the common-sense instruction, which we must scatter abroad. All must be 
thoroughly educated, in order that all may be truly freemen. 

No words, in the opinion of your committee, can sufficiently express the mag- 
nitude and importance of this subject. It is one, upon which the attention of 
the legislature of JMassachuselts should be particularly fostened. To Massachu- 
setts it eminently pertains to take the lead in the project, which can not fail to 
accomplish so much in advancing the character, and securing the prosperity of 
the free schools. Here the system was first adopted. The pilgrims, from whom 
we derive honorable descent, placed the first hand upon the work. It be- 
longs to the descendants of those pilgrims, and upon the ground where they trod, 
to finish and sustain it. For the Committee, W. B. Calhoun. 

H-Wriglil Smith Sc 




The Colburiis were among the primitive settlers of Dedham, Mass. 
Nathaniel Colburn, the common ancestor, was a resident of the town 
as early as the year 1639, and was one of the Selectmen, from 1651, 
five consecutive years. He had eleven children, five sons and six 
daughters. All Ms sons married and settled in Dedham, and had 

Samuel Colburn was the paternal grandfather of Warren. Plis 
wife was Marcy Dean. They lived together to an advanced age, and 
had twelve children. The last part of their lives was cotemporary 
with Warren, and they spent their latter days and died in his father's 
family. One of their sons was Lieut. Lewis Colburn, who served in 
the Revolutionary War, was a volunteer from Dedham for the sup- 
pression of the Shay's rebellion, and died, June 1, 1843, at the age 
of ninety-one. 

Richard Colburn, the father of Warren, married Joanna Eaton, 
whose mother and his maternal grandmother was Mary Eaton, by 
second marriage Mary Dean ; who was very favorably noticed by hei 
pastor, the Rev. Dr. Lamson, in a printed funeral discourse, preached 
the Sunday after her interment. He says : " She was of old Ded- 
ham ancestry. She was a communicant of this chuich seventy-eight 
years; having been admitted August 30, 1*772. She had naturally a 
strong mindj and clear perceptions ; and, her faculties she did not suf- 
fer to rust out ; and, there was but little failure of them to the last. 
Some indications of an infirm memory began to manifest themselves, 
but into the period of second childhood she never fell." She died, 
October 13th, 1850, in the ninety-ninth year of her age. 

Warren, the first-born child of Richard Colburn and Joanna (Eaton) 
Colburn, was born the day his mother was twenty years of age, 
March 1st, 1793, in the part of Dedham called Pond Plain. Some- 
time in the year 1794 or 5, the family moved into Clapboardtrees 
parish, where they resided about six years. Richard Colburn, being 
the youngest of his father's large family, had his parents, Samuel and 
Marcy Colburn, in his own family from the time he became a house- 


keeper till their deaths. After a short residence at High Rock, the 
family moved, in 1800 or 1, to Miltbrd. The grandparents were 
exceedingly fond of Warren, and he was affectionate and obedient to 
them. At the age of four, he was sent to a Summer District School, 
and had care and charge of his sister, about two years old. Tlie 
father was a farmer, and the son was early put to do a boy's work on 
\he farm. At Milford, he began to attend the Winter District Schools 
while they kept. He was esteemed a good and truthful boy, and was 
never addicted to profane or foul language. His grandmother died 
suddenly at Milford, about the year 1802. His grandfather lived 
about three years after, and died in 1805, at the age of ninety -one 
years, when Warren was about twelve. From Milford, the family 
moved, about the year 1806, to Uxbridge. Here, as before, his occu- 
pation was on the farm, and his education chiefly what was afforded 
iji the winter terms of the Common Schools, wherein his taste and 
expertness in arithmetic was manifest. This talent was discovered and 
encouraged by his father. Mr. Gideon Alby, a poor and infirm man, 
good at figures and used to teaching, was taken into the family for 
the purpose of giving Warren instruction in cyphering during the fall 
and winter evenings. He was already aspiring to a more extensive 
scope for enterprise than the farm presented. In about 1810, the 
family, on his account, moved to Pawtucket, R. I, where he was put 
to labor and learn something of machinery with Mr. John Fields, a 
machinist. There they lived about a year, and moved thence to Can- 
ton, 1812. They resided in the vicinity of the factory, where ho 
found employment on machinery, and others of the children in con- 
nection with the factory. He remained at his occupation when the 
family moved to a farm near the line of Dedham, toward Walpole, 
and, not long after, to Webb's Factory, in the border of Walpole. In 
about 1813, during the war with England, and while he was in Can- 
ton, he learned to weave of Capt. Williams, a Norwegian, whose wife 
was an English lady. He went to Plymouth, in about 1814, where 
he wrought in machinery, which, being in the war time, was then 
rather a profitable as well as a rapidly extending business. From 
Plymouth he went to Easton, in the early part of 1815, still working 
in the same line of engagement at the factory in that place, and con- 
tinued there some months after the declaration of peace. In the 
summer of this year, and, at the age of twenty -two and a half years, 
he began to fit for college. The Rev. Dr. Richmond, for about a 
quarter of a century the settled minister of Stoughton, discharged also 
from time to time the office of teacher, and fitted pupils for college. 
Under his tuition young Colburn placed himself. A fellow-pupil was 


Henry G. Wheaton, son of Daniel Wheaton, Esq., of Norton, m 
gentleman of wealth and of education. The two pupils were soon 
friends, and the friend of the son was readilj^ befriended by the father, 
who kindly arranged with Colbum to lend hiin such sums of money 
as he might have occasion to borrow for defraying his college 
expenses. It is said to have stimulated the son to the completion of 
his preparatory studies, so that the two might enter together, and be 
room-mates in college. Says Mr. Wheaton : " We lived together in 
the same room for about five years ; at Mr. Richmond's, fitting for 
college, about one year, and four years in college ; the most of the 
time engaged substantially in the same studies. Of course, being 
class-mates and occupying the same room, we were intimately 
acquainted, and met many times after leaving college, particularly 
while he was in Boston." 

His college life, at this late period, will be best portrayed by such 
recollections of his class-mates as can now be gathered. Soon after 
his decease, there appeared an anonymous newspaper article attributed 
to Dr. Edward G. Davis, who was, at the time it was written, a prac- 
tising physician in Boston, of respectable connections and standing, 
and who died in Philadelphia in less than six years afterwards, and 
before completing his thirty-seventh year. If any slight discrepancies 
or repetitions are discovered in the different sketches, the portraiture, 
as a whole, will not, it is hoped, be considered the less valuable. The 
following is the article of Dr. Davis. 


Mr. Warren Colburn, whose death was recently announced in the papers, 
passed the years 1817 [1816] to 20 at Harvard College. It was there that he 
developed that fondness for the higher branches of mathematical studies, and that 
talent for analysis, which continued so remarkable in his after life. It is the im- 
pression of the writer that he entered college only with the usual preparatory 
knowledge in this branch ; but, while there, he made himself master of the cal- 
culus, and read through a considerable part of the great work of Laplace. II« 
commenced his collegiate course at the comparatively late age of 24, when both 
his mind and his character had reached a degree of maturity much exceeding 
that of the great proportion of his fellow-students. It was only by slow degrees, 
however, that his talents and his virtues made their due impression on the niindii 
of those around him. With a sensitiveness almost allied to timidity, he shrunk 
from familiarity even with those with whom he most constantly held intercourse, 
and there are many who can remember, when the jest and the laugh went round, 
how little Colburn partook in the boisterous merriment. There was in him a 
peculiar diffidence about obtruding himself or his thoughts upon others ; a dispo- 
sition to stand back, and, only when strongly urged, to join in the scheme which 
formed the attraction of the moment. Yet, was he possessed of great, nay, of 
peculiar kindness of feeling ; no angry word ever escaped his lips, no expression 
that breathed of aught but benevolence and good will. A little circumstance, but 
one which is no doubt familiar to the recollection of all who knew him at the time, 
and which seems intimately interwoven with the general texture of his character, 
was a hesitation in speaking, slight indeed, but sufficient to make it an effort to 
him to express himself, and to call up an cviilent embarrassment when he attempted 
it Many years after, when the writer again saw him, this hesitatioa of manner 


appeared to be nnaltered. It was no doubt one of the causes which rendered hlnri 
shy of en^jaging in general conversation, nor did he, in conversing, always do 
justice to the vigor and force of his own thougliis. To this diffidence and slow- 
ness of manner was it owing that a just estimate of his powers was formed by 
only a very small proportion of liis early friends. It was, indeed, known that he 
pursued his mathematical investigations with great ardor and zeal; and, his ac- 
quaintance with these subjects were, in some degree, made evident in his recita- 
tions. But, the accuracy with which his exercises in the languages were prepared, 
and tlie foundation he was laying in the science of philology, were suspected only 
by a few of the more discerning members of his class. Yet, it was a fact, that 
he studied languages with no less thoroughness than the abstract sciences ; and, 
the involved and difficult passages in Aristotle were analyzed by liim with neither 
less care nor less success than the propositions of Newton and the formulas of 
Laplace. This circumstance was little known at the time, but may readily be 
believed by those who have noticed with what success his mind has recently been 
directed into similar investigations, resulting in the production of an elementary 
work on granmjar ; a subject to which it would hardly have been anticipated that 
a mind like his would have directed its energies. 

His great and most interesting project, that of improving the system of ele- 
mentiry instruction in mathematical science, appears to have occurred to him 
during the latter part of his college life, and was the subject of painful thought, 
many years before his first work made its appearance. It required, indeed, no 
small energy of mind thus to break through the trammels of early education, and 
strike out a new path; for, Colburn, like others, had been brought up under a 
system the reverse of that which he now undertook to mature and introduce. 
This is not the occasion, nor is it the writer's purpose to attempt a criticism on the 
system itself. The author may have followed out a single principle more closely, 
and applied it more extensively, than the interests of education required. But, 
such was the readiness with which it was adopted, that, in the course of a few 
years, the appearance of these little books seemed to have revolutionized the mode 
of tiaching elementary mathematics in the schools of New England. Various 
modifications have since been introduced into his plan, for which, whether im- 
provements or otherwise, little credit can be claimed on the score of originality ; 
and, it may with safety be asserted that, whatever in the present mode of teach- 
ing the science of numbers in our schools distinguishes it from that in use twenty 
years since, is mainly to be attributed to his publications. 

In the constitution of Mr. Colburn's mind, many circumstances were peculiar. 
His ment;d operations were not rapid, and it was only by great patience and long- 
continued thought that he achieved his objects. This peculiarity, which was 
joined with an uncommon power of abstraction, he possessed in common with 
some of the most gifted minds which the world has produced. Newton, himself, 
said that it was only by patient reflection that he had arrived at his great results, 
and not by sudden or rapid flights. In Colburn this slowness and patience of in- 
vestigation were leading traits. It was not his habit, perhaps not within his 
power, to arrive at rapid conclusions on any subject. If this tended, as probably 
it did, to impart to his conversation that hesitating manner which I have men- 
tioned ; if it made him a|)pear more absent and thoughtful than quite befitted the 
animation of intercourse, it yet had its advantnges. His conclusions, 
reached slowly and painfully, were established on a solid basis, and the silent pro- 
gress of time, that great test of truth, has served but to verify and confirm them. 

Such, imperfectly stated, are the writer's college recollections of Mr. Colburn. 
He has little to add to them, derived from a knowledgt* of his subsequent career. 
He soon passed into a station in life which he was well qualified to fill, and the 
duties of which he conscientiously and ably performed. More extensive inter- 
course with the world served, no doubt, to divest him of some prejudices, and to 
improve his qualifications for social. life ; but, in seeing him occasionally during the 
last thirteen years, the writer found the exquisite simplicity of his manner still 
retained, and his habits of thought appeared to have experienced very little altera- 
tion. From the same mild, gentle eye beamed the same benevolence of expres- 
sion, and the friend and associate of former days stood again confessed. Alas! 
that the recollection of the past can never more be refreshed by another meeting, 
that the form which is portrayed so vividly in the fancy of surviving friends, has 
passed from earth, and will be no more among men. But, while the present 



generation remains, will that form be cherished in grateful luarts ; and, even when 
all wlio knew his worth shall have departed, his name will be preserved, in con- 
nection with works, at once the evidence of the energy of his mind and of the 
benevolence which directed its application. He has performed a good work on 
earth, which shall not be taken from liim, even when hia remains, now slumber- 
ing beneath it, shall have crumbled to dust. Tliough dead, he will yet speak to 
those for whose instruction he zealously labored, while living ; and, .so long as 
education asserts its claims to respect among us, the name of Colburn shall bo 
numbered among a people's benefactors. 

The Rev. Benjamin Kent, of Roxbury, writes, June, 185G : — 

Being older than those who entered college with us, and of nearly the same 
age, wo soon became intimate associates. In our Junior year, we had a " part" 
together, — the translation of a Greek dialogue into English. I can, mentally, see 
the room, and the bland and loving countenance lie wore when we were engaged 
together in our work : and, during our whole college life, whatever may be true 
of others, I never heard an expression of any feeling toward him than that of 
admiration for his dispositions, counsels, and intellectual gifts. It may, indeed, be 
said that he brought with him to college a decided taste for mathematics. We none 
of us ever thought of approaching near to him in this science. He early studied 
and made himself perfectly familiar with the French language, with a distinct view- 
to mastering every French mathematician of promise which he had not met with 
or seen reft^rred to. In saying this, however, I do not mean to say that he did not 
excel in every other department t)f a college education. He always ranked among 
the first scholars of his class in every thing but public speaking. " Oratory ! " he 
used to say, with a soul-prompted smile and brilliancy of eye, " I am no orator, 
as Brutus is ; " and we all lamented that his vast erudition, for so young a man, 
could not be freely comnmnieated to a promiscuous audience, or sometimes even 
in the recitation room, in consequence of his modesty and a slight impediment iu 
utterance. To sum up what I learned in the course of intimacy and friendship, 
which was never for a moment interrupted, I need only say, what I do say with 
the deepest sincerity, that he never gave evidence of carelessness in a recitation 
room, of unkindness to any one who applied to him for sympathy or counsel, or 
of envy, jealousy, or self-assurance, wlien a few others were selected to appear 
before aud ences in higher parts than those assigned to him. Taking our studies 
altogether, I am confident that he had not his superior if his equal, as a scholar, 
gentleman, and Christian, in the class of which we were members. 

The Rev. E. B. Hall, D. D., of Providence, May, 1856, writes: — 

I have no memorial of him except those of the mind and the heart ; but, they 
are very precious. His image and whole character stand before me as entire, defi- 
nite, and life-like as those of any early friend, d^.'parted or living. Some of my 
associates in college have passed almost wholly from my memory ; but, Colbum 
is as if I had seen him yesterday, or were at this moment listening to his slow 
utterance, but pleasant voice, and clear thoughts, in the recitation room, or the 
private interview. Though not peculiarly intimate, lie being much my senior, and 
wholly unknown to me previously, I knew him enough, and was with him enough, 
to form the highest opinion of his character as a man of stern integrity, transpa- 
rent simplicity, freedom from all guile or pretence, and invincible moral courage. 
I doubt if any force could have driven, — I am sure no lure could have enticed 
him into a single mean action or false word. There was no one in my whole col- 
lege acquaintance to whom I should have gone more readily for counsel in any 
emergency, or to whose care I would more willingly have committed any trust. 

Colburn was not a splendid scholar, nor able to do full justice, either in speech 
or with the pen, to his own clear perceptions and actual knowledge. This was 
owing to a natural diffidence, small power of expression, and, as I suppose a want 
of early advantages. But, in clearness of thought, soundness of judgment, the 
habit of discrimination, and, above all, mathematical genius, he was surpassed by 
few. His position in the class was always rcspeotHible, and, in the end, high. He 
had as little ordinary ambition as any mortal could have. He loved study for its- 
own sake, not for appearance or immediate efFct. He was fiithful to every duty,, 
and, by a uniformly consistent deportment, and quiet, straightforward course, won 



the confidence of all liis teachers, and the respect of all his fellow pupils ; while 
some were bound to him as by fraternal affection. 

After our college life, I visited him once or twice in Lowell, and saw manifest 
tokens of ripened character and advancing intellect. lie seemed to me to give 
promise of great usefulness, if not of high distinction. His death affected me as 
a personal as well as a public loss. A good impression of his features hangs in my 
study, but a better one in my heart. I should be sorry to believe that I shall 
never meet him again. 

Mr. Sparks, ex-President of Harvard College, says, 1856 : — 

He was a student in college during about a year and a half while I was a tutor. 
I left Cambridge in the early part of his Junior year, and I do not remember to 
have seen him afterwards. All my recollections of him, as a student, in regard 
to his character, deportment, and scholarship, are of the most favorable kind. He 
held a high rank in his class, particularly in the mathematicil department, in 
which I vvas an instructor. I was not then aware of his peculiar and remarkable 
gifts in that branch of science which he subsequently manifested. 

The Rev. Dr. Gannett, under date of January, 185C, writes: — 

Mr. Colburn was older than mo-st of his chiss-mates, and did not form intima- 
cies with many of them. Indeed, his only very intimate friend, as I suppose, was 
James G. Carter, afterwards of Lancaster, who died some years since. Carter and 
he, after " commons," would go off together for long walks, talking, as the rest of us 
believed, on metaphysical and mathematical subjects, in the former of which Carter, 
and, in the latter, Colburn was most interested. We all respected Colburn. He was, 
far and far away, our first mathematical scholar, and respectable in all branches. 
His moral character was stainless, and, it was taken for granted that he would do 
right; for, we looked on him as a man, rather than as one of us lads. He was 
always kind in disposition, and agreeable in manners; so far, at least, as my im- 
pression of him is just; but, he did not associate very much with his class-mates, 
and was regarded as an honorable, studious, and exemplary person, rather than 
as one with whom we could be very free. He used his time faithfully, and left 
college, I believe, without any occurrence to mar the pleasure he must have had 
in recalling his course through the four years. 

Dr. Palmer, of Boston, Jan, 15, 1856, writes: — 

Colburn's parents being in humble life and not blessed with this world's goods, 
(although they were highly respected by their neighbors,) he was dependent on 
his own exei'tions for a subsistence. He was brought up to the business of a ma- 
chinist, at which he labored for some years. I know not what induced him to 
quit his business and determine to obtain a liberal education. He was fitted for 
college by the Rev. Edward Richmond, D. D., of Stoughton. But, in all the 
studies required for admission into college, with the exception of mathematics, he 
was illy prepared ; for, he told me himself that he was only one year in fitting ; 
having begun to study the Latin Grammar on Commencement Day, the year 
before he entered. The consequence was that, in classical studies, while in col- 
lege, he never shone j but, in mathematics, he was, longo intervallo, ahead of all 
his class-mates. 

The Rev. Dr. Furness, of Philadelphia, was also of the same class, 
and writes, Jan. 20, 1856 : — 

I remember him as, by a number of years, the senior of the majority of our 
class. He was respected by all. Every class-mate of his will bear witness to his 
manly character, and to his devotion to his favorite study. 

He lived, in his senior year, I think it was, in Stoughton Hall, on the west side, 
not far from the college bell. I recollect his chum's telling us, one day, that he 
missed Colburn at morning prayers, then at six o'clock ; he missed him at recita- 
tion, likewise, about half an hour after, and he missed him also at breakfast, at 
half-past seven. lie did not know what had become of him, and supposed he had 
gone upon an early walk, and wandered too far to return in time for breakfast. 
However, his chum, upon returning to his room after breakfast, opened the door 


of Colburn's study, and found hjm standing there at his desk, lost in mathemati- 
cal studies. The bell had rung out its summons three several times, but, as he 
said, he had not heard it. We all believed it was exactly so. lie was too unpre- 
tending and simple to affect any thing. 

Again, I recollect being in Prof. Farrar's recitation room. After recitation, 
when the first scholar of our class stopped to point out a mistake in our text-book, 
Prof. Farrar agreed with him that it was an error. Colburn, who happened to 
overhear them, (he was the only other person, beside myself, in the room.) struck 
in and observed that there was no mistake. I remember I knew not which most 
to admire, the superior aeuteness of Colburn, or the candor and interest with 
which, without any false pride, the Professor listened to his pupil. Of his great 
mathematical talent who does not know. 

He took his first collegiate degree with his class at the commence- 
ment, in August, 1820. In the public exercises of the occasion, his 
appointment was ranked an honorable one. His " part " was " On 
the benefit accruing to an individual from a knowledge of the Physi- 
cal Sciences," which he creditably sustained. The subject was 
assigned to him by the Faculty ; but, probably selected with some 
view to its adaptation to his taste and turn of thought. The follow- 
ing passages are given as illustrative of his habitual thoughts and 

The purpose of education is to render a man happy as an individual, and agree- 
able, useful, and respectable, as a member of society. To do this, he ought to 
cultivate all the powers of his mind, and endeavor to acquire a general knowledge 
of every department of literature and science, and a general acquaintance with 
the world by habits of conversation. And, this is not inconsistent with the most 
intense application to a favorite pursuit. 

Tli4 Physical Sciences belong to all the professions ; and, not only to them, but 
to all men, in every situation. There is not a human being, who has not some- 
thing to do with these sciences. They are the science of life. Every child, as 
soon as he begins to learn any thing, begins to learn the rudiments of them. But, 
it is the rudiments only that he learns, the abstruse principles are to be discovered 
hy patient and diligent study. 

It is true, indeed, that a very large portion of the community have neither time 
nor opportunity to acquire them, by their own exertions ; and yet, the greatest 
advantage might be derived from these sciences, in the hands of this class of citi- 
zens, because they possess the means of applying them more immediately to useful 
purposes. The knowledge of these sciences, therefore, is to be circulated by the 
favored few who have the means of knowing them ; and, it becomes the duty of 
every one who possesses the means, not only to acquire them himself, and to do 
what he can to improve them, but to promote the diffusion of them among man- 
kind, and to be always ready to give any information in his power concerning 
them to all who may need it. 

The bent of his mind is here to be plainly seen. Education was 
the subject to which he was chiefly inclined, and teaching was his 
favorite pursuit. On leaving the university, he undertook the work 
of teaching, and kept a select school in Boston. He already had the 
experience of them who, working their way through a course of col- 
lege education, resort to school keeping in the winter. He had taught 
in Boston, in Leominster, in Canton, and, thus early practiced, he soon 
became an accomplished teacher. His lecture on this subject, deliv- 
ered before the American Institute of Instruction, in 1830, presents a 


luminous view of his own mind and experience, and is well worth" 
the attention of teachers. 

The number of his pupils in Boston was not large at first ; and 
did not, at any time, exceed from about twenty-five to thirty. His 
friend, Mr. Carter, in a letter of 1821, writes: "I congratulate you 
on your success in your school. From what I hear, as well from 
other sources as from yourself, I apprehend that you have a pretty 
strong hold on the good opinion of the respectable part of the cora- 
muniiy. There are few of us so well qualified, both by nature and 
education, as you are for this important station in society. My prayer 
is that you go on and prosper ; and, take that elevated rank in society 
which your talents, your acquirements, and your virtues so eminently 
qualify you to maintain." 

It was while engaged in keeping this school that he produced his 
" First Lessons in Intellectual Arithmetic." He must have begun to 
make the book about the time that he commenced the school. Per- 
haps the work was previously conceived. It was probably put to 
press in the autumn of 1821. His friend, Mr. Carter, Nov. 9, speaks 
of it as forthcoming, and, Dec. 15, as having been received by him at 

Mr. Batchelder, of Cambridge, states : " I remember once, in con- 
versing with him with respect to his Arithmetic, he remarked that the 
pupils who were under his tuition made his arithmetic for him : that 
he had only to give attention to the questions they asked, and the 
proper answers and explanations to be given, in order to anticipate 
the doubts and difficulties that would arise in the minds of other 
pupils ; and, the removal of those doubts and difficulties in the 
simplest manner, was the foundation of that system of instruction 
which his school-books were the means of introducing." His " First 
Lessons " was, unquestionably, the result of his own teaching. He 
made the book because he needed it, and because such a book was 
needed in the community. He had read Pestalozzi, probably, while 
in college. That which suited his taste, that which he deemed prac- 
ticable and important, he imbibed and made his own. He has been 
sometimes represented as owing his fame to Pestalozzi. That in read- 
ing the account and writings of the Swiss philosopher, he derived aid 
and confidence in his own investigations of the general principles d' 
education, is true. But, his indebtedness to Pestalozzi is believed tj 
have been misunderstood and overrated. 

Upon the fii-st appearance of the " First Lessons," his friend, Mr, 
Carter, of Lancaster, writes, Dec. 1821 : " I shall see Dr. Thayer this 
afternoon, and, if I succeed to my mind with him, your book wih be 


immediately introduced into the academy here. I shall send my copy 
to-day to Rev. Mr. Clarke, of Princeton, who is quite engaged in the 
instruction of youth. I hope he will use his influence to introduce it 
in his parish. I think you will do well to send a quantity of them to 
the book-store in this town, for sale. I need not tell you that I am 
more and more pleased with your book, the more I see of it. I intend 
all my scholars shall use it, for I am convinced they have got the sub- 
stance of it to learn, however far they may be advanced." On April 
12th, 1822. Mr. Carter writes: "Your little book is still doing well. 
The bookseller told me, a day or two since, that he had sold a great 
many to go out of town. You must get out another edition as soon 
as possible, for I think they will be very useful in the summer schools. 
Let me know how you progress with your larger arithmetic, and how 
you get on with your algebra. I feel much interested in the latter. 
But, I have little doubt but yon will do the subject justice." 

Thus the "First Lessons" worked its way gradually to notice and 
favor, — a book which has enjoyed a more enviable success than any 
other school-book ever publislied in this country, and the merits of 
which are now universally acknowledged to be equal to its success. 
It has been said to be "the only foultless school-book that we have." 
It certainly has w^rought a great change in the manner of teaching 
arithmetic. Its system is received wherever the book is known. It 
has no competitors, except in the profits of sale, in the shape of imi- 
tations ; and, that these have been numerous is altogether to its credit. 
Such a man as George B. Emerson, after twelve years' constant use of 
it, long ago pronounced it the most valuable school-book that has made 
its appearance in this country. And, Thomas Sherwin, Esq., of the 
Boston High School, calls it, not only the best in this country, but, the 
best in the world. Its use is believed to be nearly commensurate 
with that of the English language, and it has been translated into 
other tongues. It has been stated that fifty thousand copies of Col- 
burn's First Lessons are annually used in Great Britain ; and, its sale 
in this country is about one hundred thousand per annum. About 
two millions of copies have been sold since its first publication in this 

It will be seen that the Sequel and the Algebra were parts of his 
original conception, in connection with the First Lessons, and were in 
a state of progress as early as 1822. 

He continued his school about two years and a half; and, though 
his teaching must be pronounced successful, as well by the testimony 
of his pupils as by that of his book, the production of that period ; 
vet, owing to his retiring modesty and reluctance to putting himself 


forward, his financial success was but moderate. And, though teach- 
ing was his iiivorite science, and an engagement of which he was 
fond, yet, says one who had opportunity to know : " I do not think 
he ever intended, even if he liad had the greatest success, to make 
teaching his ultimate employment. I think that he always had a 
predilection for the pursuit which he afterwards followed ; and, felt 
that, from his early practical knowledge, added to his scientific, he 
was well fitted for the occupation." Visiting in the families of his 
pupils, he was introduced to the late Patrick T. Jackson, who, with 
his quick perception of the qualifications and abilities of men, soon 
discovered in his new acquaintance the talents and acquirements 
adapted to a situation which he was then seeking to fill. Mr. Jack- 
son offered him the situation of Superintendent of the Boston Manu- 
facturing Company, at Walthara, with a much better income than he 
was deriving from his school. He accepted the place without much 
hesitation, and went to Waltham, April, 1823. 

Here he was successful in his business, was much esteemed, and 
made some very valuable friends. Among these, now living, is Dr. 
Hobbs, who still cherishes impressions of him " as a man of great 
simplicity of character, honest and upright in all his ways, with a 
moral character without spot or blemish ; a liberal supporter and pro- 
moter of science and the arts, always kind to children and poor 
scholars that were trying to get an education, always friendly to all 
institutions of morality, religion, and learning, his heart full of benevo- 
lence, and his mind ever active to promote the education and well 
being of the rising generation." 

During his college course, he kept school on two occasions in Can- 
ton, Mass. In the winter of 1818, he had for a pupil Miss T. C. 
Horton, at that time residing there with her mother. An affectionate 
and reciprocal attachment was then commenced, which, after an 
acquaintance of about five years, resulted in their marriage on the 
28th of August, 1823, about four months after his settlement in 
Waltham. The connection was a happy one, and marked with a 
very warm and tender affection, to the freshness and fervency of which 
there seemed to be no abatement. As well in health as in his last 
and only sickness, it was the same ; and, to the very close of life, it 
was seen to gush forth from the fullness of his heart, so long as he 
had the power to give it expression. 

On the 18th of June, 1824, the Superintendent of the Lowell 
Merrimack Manufacturing Company, Mr. Ezra Wortben, died instantly, 
while engaged in his ordinary duties. Mr. Colburn was appointed his 
successor, and removed his residence to Lowell as soon as he could be 


conveniently transferred from his duties in WaltLam. His removal 
was in August, that of his family in October. 

He seemed to be well aware of the responsibility of his new position, 
as well in a more general as in a business point of view. In his 
general relations to the interests of the community, he was active and 
enterprising. He readily perceived and appreciated the peculiar 
character of a manufacturing community in New England, and pro- 
jected at once a scheme of lecturing, adapted to popular improvement. 
His plan was to present common and useful subjects in such a way 
as to gain attention, and in such connection with science as to enlighten 
and furnish the popular mind. He proposed to occupy the space 
between the college halls and the common schools by carrying, so 
far as might be found practicable, the design of the Rumford Lectures 
of Harvard, into the community of the actual operators of common 

Early in the autumn of 1825, and so along through the winter, he 
lectured upon the Natural History of animals. With an excellent 
magic lantern he illustrated the classification of animals, exhibiting 
on the screen specimens of the several classes, of the size and color 
of life, and pointing out, while the animal was thus before the com- 
pany, its qualities, and the characteristic distinctions of its class. He 
lectured upon light ; intermingling with statements of some of its 
remarkable facts, explanations and simple illustrations of some of its 
familiar phenomena. In a dark room, with his well-managed instru- 
ment, he exhibited the rays, applied lenses and explained their effect, 
illustrated the refraction of rays by refracting them to the sight. 
Some curious optical illusions were exhibited and explained. The 
structure of the eye ; the use of lenses, the telescope, the microscope, 
■were made intelligible to uneducated operatives by his successful 
experiments and simple teaching. He lectured upon the seasons ; 
and, by diagrams thrown upon the screen, and a very simple orrery, 
of his own construction, and a skillful adjustment of lights, he illus- 
trated the changes of the year ; and, with his plain and lucid explana- 
tions, brought the subject to the comprehension of every observer. He 
took up the subject of electricity, and, with the help of a machine, 
taught and illustrated many things, which it is of practical use to 
know. The phenomena of thunder and lightning were presented to 
the comprehension and understanding of many who, without a thor- 
ough knowledge of the science, even as then developed, gathered 
enough to give interest to the storm, to allay unreasonable terror, and 
to suggest the ways of safety. 

These lectures were given in the years 1825, '26 and '27. They 



were commenced, at least, from two to three years, as is believed, 
before the subject of Lyceums, so-called, and of Lyceum Lecturing 
was broached in New England. The Middlesex County Lyceum, 
which was among the early associations of this kind, and of which 
Mr, Colburn was chosen one of the Curators, was formed November 
16th, 1829. He had attended a meeting of gentlemen of the county, 
for maturing the plan, and contributed, from his own experience, im- 
portant aid to the enterprise. 

In the winter of 1826, what had been called East Chelmsford was 
incorporated into the town of Lowell ; and, at the first town-meeting, 
held March 6th, Mr. Colburn was chosen one of the Superintending 
School Committee. It was of vast consequence to make a good 
beginning of the public schools of the town. The duties of the Com- 
mittee, by the Statutes of the Commonwealth, and under existing cir- 
cumstaflces, were arduous and responsible. The acting members were 
fully aware of their position, its difficulties, and its importance, and 
determined to discharge the office faithfully and to the best of their 
ability for the interests of the schools. Though laden with other 
cares, they spared not the labor nor the time. When the pressure 
of other engagements was upon them, they repeatedly held their 
meetings at six o'clock in the morning. Mr. Colburn served on this 
Committee the first two years, and contributed freely of his wisdom 
and pains to the favorable beginning and good condition of the 
schools. In town-meetings he took upon himself to look after the 
appropriation of money to the schools. He was customarily on the 
Committee for dividing the money to the several districts ; and, fre- 
quently on other Committees pertaining to the interests of the schools. 
In 1831, he was elected again on the General Superintending Com- 
mittee, and was, at his own request, excused from serving. 

While he was at Waltham, though withdrawn chiefly from the 
work of practical education, the subject continued to be his favorite 
study, and heavily taxed his leisure moments. He soon finished his 
second book, the "Sequel," which came out about the beginning of 
the year 1824, which is certainly a work of great ingenuity, which 
shows a great mastery of the principles of education, and which he 
himself considered a book of more merit and importance than the 
First Lessons. Of the Sequel, indeed, it may be said, not only that 
its true value has not, in general, been sufficiently estimated, but, that 
its actual influence on the use, the understanding, and popularity of 
the First Lessons has been appreciated only by particular observers. 
Whoever considers by what sort of management school-books are 
thrust into and out of the market, and how natural it was for book- 


makers and book-publishers to feei that Colburn had received his 
share of profits, will easily see that the Sequel had a severer ordeal to 
pass through than the First Lessons, and much greater difficulty in 
holding the place to which, by its merits, it might be entitled. 

After seven or eight years of successful experiment in the use of 
the First Lessons and Sequel, attempts were made in Boston, by imi- 
tations and variations, to supersede them, so that his friends applied 
to him to make some modification of one or both of the books, so as 
to obviate the objections which had been devised. Early in 1833, he 
directed his attention to a revision of the Sequel. He perceived that 
the objections most relied upon were based upon misapprehensions or 
misrepresentations of the distinctive characteristics of the book. He 
did not wish to make it an easier book, nor an essentially different 
book. That which he w^as laboring in his mind, was to make its dis- 
tinct character more readily apprehended, without injuring it; con- 
templating also other slight amendments, in passing. That part of the 
labor which such a mind may work out, before putting pen to paper^ 
except in scraps and hints, intelligible only to himself, he had already 
accomplished. His mind had penetrated to the result, with pretty 
good hope of being satisfied therewith, — had his life been spared to 
attain it. That the event was otherwise is much to be regretted by 
the friends of education. 

Says Mr. Thomas Sherwin, Principal of the High School, Boston : 
*' I regard Mr. Colburn as the great benefactor of his age, with respect 
to the proper development of the mathematical powers. Pestalozzi, 
indeed, first conceived the plan ; but, Mr. Colburn realized the plan, 
popularized it, and rendered it capable of being applied by the 
humblest mediocrity. Lideed, I regard the First Lessons as the ne 
plus ultra of primary arithmetics. The Sequel is also a very good 
work; but, it needs a pretty intelligent teacher to make it eminently 
useful. In his Algebra, Mr. Colburn accomplished much, by render- 
ing the study interesting, and by gradually leading the student to a 
knowledge of pure algebraical symbols and processes. Mr. Colburn did 
much to place algebra within the reach of the mass of learners. He 
introduced an original demonstration of the Binomial Theorem, which 
is a very good instance of the inductive method of reasoning. He 
commences with forming several powers of a binomial by multiplication. 
He then examines the law of the letters, also the co-efficients, and 
finds that the latter consist of several series of numbers, deducible 
the one from the other. The next step is to trace out the law of the 
different orders of series, show how to find any term, and the sum of 
any number of terms, in each series, and demonstrate the mode by 


which one series, or any term of it, may be deduced from the preced- 
ing order of series. Finally, the Jaws thus obtained are applied to 
finding the co-efficients of any power of a binomial, and the usual 
rule for finding the successive terms is given. This investigation of 
series, tracing out the laws which characterize them, and the applica- 
tion of those laws to the Binomial Theorem, is entirely original with 
Mr. Colburn, and exhibits that acuteness of investigation, and that 
analytic character of mind for which he was distinguished." 

He completed his Algebra in 1828, and, as himself remarked, he 
never in his life worked harder, and never accomplished more, from 
day to day, than he did then ; when, in addition to the sedulous and 
faithful discharge of the duties of his place, as the Company's Super- 
intendent, and other numerous incidental calls on his time, he was 
writing that work, and carrying it through the press. 

It was not in one department only, but in teaching generally, that 
he sought and looked for the best methods. In his relation to the 
public schools, as one of the Superintending Committee, his attention 
was directed to the subjects of Reading, Grammar, and other branches. 
He published a series of selections from Miss Edgeworth's stories in a 
suitable form for reading exercises for the younger classes ; in the use 
of which, the teachers were carefully instructed. He prefixed to each 
book of the series some instructions in Grammar. So that a system 
of Grammar for younger pupils was completed in connection with the 
Reading Books. These instructions were addressed to the teachers, 
that they, possessing their own minds with the beautiful simplicity of 
the system, might communicate the same, in its plainness and clear- 
ness, to their pupils. Thus, a very good notion of English Grammar 
was given to children, and their early proficiency therein, by this 
method, was scarcely less admirable than in arithmetic. 

In the winter of 1828, his lectures, which, from the beginning, had 
been entirely free and gratuitous, were given in connection with the 
Middlesex Mechanic Association. He lectured upon Hydraulics, con- 
structed an apparatus of considerable extent, exhibited several kinds 
of water-wheels, explained the power of water and its application as 
a motive agent, showed the principles of the Hydraulic Press, and 
gave numerous illustrations of the flow and the force of this element. 
He was invited to lecture in Boston on the same subject, and did so 
before the Mechanic's Charitable Association. He was heard by 
many intelligent gentlemen, who were curious to observe the practi- 
cability of presenting subjects of science to the popular mind. 
Although research and knowledge of his subject were satisfactorily 
evinced, yet, the presence of such a proportion of scientific gentlemen, 


probably, somewhat disconcerted him ; and, the failure of some of his 
experiments made him feel less at home than with a more popular 

His lectures, in the subsequent years, at Lowell, were many of them 
on the subject of Astronomy. Eclipses were lectured upon, as they 
occurred ; and Comets, as they appeared. Says a gentleman of sci- 
ence : " I visited him once or twice, while he was at Lowell, and, on 
one occasion, assisted him in taking an observation of the sun, with 
his Reflecting Circle, for the purpose of taking the latitude." 

In May, 1827, he was elected a fellow of the American Academy 
of Arts and Sciences. He was, for several years, a rfiember of the 
Examining Committee for Mathematics, at Harvard College. 

It was the early policy of the Manufacturing Companies to select, 
for Superintendents, men practically acquainted with their business. 
A veiy different policy has subsequently prevailed, that of appointing 
men of character and standing, perhaps of some general experience 
in business, but without practical knowledge of mechanics or manu- 
facturing, and, consequently, dependent on the Overseers, whom they 
superintend, for such information in those departments as they have 
occasion for. In the one case, the Superintendent looks at the work, 
understands its quality, observes the Overseers, gives such instructions 
as are needful, and, if anything goes wrong, he is capable of knowing 
how and by whom it is to be corrected. In the other case, he calls 
together his Overseers, takes their several opinions, and makes up his 
mind thereupon. This is flattering to the Overseers, and may some- 
times be turned to their advantage. The theory counts upon a gain 
by securing their influence with that of the Superintendent, in the 
community at large, favorable to the corporations. The arrangement 
may be more satisfactory to a portion of the operatives ; but, whether 
more advantageous to the Proprietors, is by no means certain. It is 
like putting in the Supercargo to be master of the vessel, making him 
dependent on his subordinate oflScers for its navigation. It may do, 
in fair weather and plain sailing ; but, it is doubtful whether the 
voyage be quicker made, with more economy or advantage to the 

Mr. Colburn was a practical mechanic, and not ignorant of manu- 
facturing. To this he added a thorough course of classical and scien- 
tific education. With a view to all of these qualifications, he was 
chosen to his place. The last named may have been the occasion of 
a particle of jealousy. It was said, when he died, by one who had 
opportunity to know : " Few who have occasion to employ so many 
persons, possess their good-will and affection so extensively as he did." 



This was true. He was much beloved by all in his employ, and most 
by them that had most frequent occasions of intercourse with him. 
His Overseers were strongly attached to him, and thought when he 
died that his place could not be filled. Had it been thought necessary 
to provide a man, in whom practical skill and science were combined 
in equal degree, as in Mr. Colburn, it would not have been easy. But, 
the same gentlemen Overseers, under the change of policy referred to, 
finding themselves in a very different relation to the Superintendent, 
and in a more agreeable and more advantageous position, it was 
natural that they should approve and even prefer the new state of 
things. And, equally natural was it that Mr. Colburn's very extraor- 
dinary qualifications for the situation which he filled, should have 
been less spoken of and less appreciated in the community at large. 
Had he lived, it cannot be doubted that his abilities and acquirements 
would have found no i;jconsiderable scope in his sphere as Superin- 
tendent. But, brief as his time was, his services were of signal 
advantage to the manufacturing interest. Several improvements of 
machinery in the spinning and weaving departments, which have 
proved to be of important and permanent utility, were introduced by 
him. In this position, he did not disappoint any reasonable 

"The most of my intercourse with him," says Samuel Batchelder, 
Esq., now of Cambridge, but then sustaining a like position with Mr. 
Colburn, in the Hamilton Works, "was confined to the manage- 
ment of the manufacturing business, in which he was engaged during 
his residence at Lowell. His mathematical skill, and his knowledge 
of the principles of mechanics, gave him important advantages ibr 
the situation in which he was placed, and he was not less successful 
in his good judgment in the general management of business." Such, 
on this point, is the statement of one, than whom, probably no person 
living better knows, or is more reliable. 

Previous to his removal to Lowell, it does not appear that his atten- 
tion had been much directed to religious investi^fations: and, he was 
known to have had a decided distaste for religious controversy. The 
chief and absorbing religious discussion of his time, in Massachusetts, 
was that between the two extreme portions of the Congregation alists, 
the Trinitarian and the Unitarian, or, as they were called, the ortho- 
dox and the liberal. His tendencies were to the latter. When he 
began to study, and became in love of learning, his religious theory 
was, probably, little else than natural philosophy. In his Dissertation, 
at Commencement, he says, of the physical sciences : " No class of 
studies has done more to dispel the sombre clouds of superstition 



which so long overshadowed the human intellect, and kept it groping 
in the darkness of ignorance and error ; a darkness which sheltered 
fairies, witches, and thousands of malignant spirits, which afflicted 
and oppressed mankind ; a darkness, in which the stars directed the 
destinies of men, and ruled them with resistless sway ; a darkness, in 
which the Supreme Ruler of the Universe appeared onl}' in his ter- 
rors, delighting in the miseries of his creatures, selfish and sordid in 
his views, capable of being appeased by vain ceremonies, and even 
with a price. The light which has beamed upon the world through 
the influence of philosophy has broken the spell by which they held 
the human intellect enslaved." 

At the time of his removing to Lowell, there was but one congre- 
gation in the place, and that worshipping in the Episcopal form ; and, 
to this most of the community then resorted. In the position which 
he occupied, the whole population of the village came more or less 
directly within the sphere of his influence. In these circumstances 
he perceived himself invested with a religious responsibility of serious 
extent and importance. He felt that the weight of his character and 
position must go into one scale or the other, — either for or against the 
religious interests of the people ; that it was impossible for him to 
wield an influence that would be neutral in this regard ; and, his in- 
genuous and comprehensive mind was at once made up as to the 
course which he consistently pursued. With the general reputation 
of the Episcopal church he was not unacquainted, with the Prayer 
Book he soon made himself familiar. In the discussions of his time, 
much use was made of the mysteries objected against the Trinitarian 
system, and he had himself felt the force of this popular argument. 
But, looking into the subject with his accustomed penetration, he soon 
perceived, and readily acknowledged, that no system of Theology, nor 
even of Philosophy, is free from mystery ; and, that, in this respect, 
neither hypothesis had any advantage. And, in view of the authority 
of a Divine Inspiration, he determined to make the Bible the end of 
controversy, and to receive its revelations and its mysteries on the tes- 
timony of the sacred word. 

Never having been baptized, his mind was exercised with character- 
istic ingenuousness and simplicity upon preparation for that solemn 
sacrament. After a very serious consideration, on Whit Sunday, June 
3, 1827, he was baptized, in St. Anne's Church, publicly confessing 
his faith in Christ. He soon afterwards received the Lord's Supper, 
and was confirmed on the first subsequent opportunity. From that 
time he was a constant communicant, as he had been, and continued 


to be a constant worsliipper ; never having been known to leave hU 
chosen place of worship for the sake of attending on any other. He 
filled the office of Church Warden as assiduonsly as if he had no 
other engagement ; and, in the absence of the Rector, repeatedly con- 
ducted the worship as a lay reader. His Christian character partook 
of the leading features of his mind. • His religious affections were not 
subject to great excitements, for his mental operations were habitually 
slow and deliberate. Tliey were strong, however, and deep, for his 
mind was strong and profound. Genuine simplicity is always 
amiable : when united with a vigorous and cultivated intellect, it is 
truly lovely ; when found in connection with knowledge of the world 
and intercourse with men, it is as admirable as it is rare. Simplicity, 
under all these circumstances, was a marked and beautiful feature of 
his mind, and it pervaded his religion. His heart was open to reli- 
gious influences, and his feelings were direct and truthful. They were 
not showy, for he was naturally reserved, even in departments wherein 
he excelled. His religious character was not wavering, because, hav- 
ing exercised his strong understanding in the simplicity of his heart, 
he acted conscientiously and consistently. His religion inclined to the 
cheerful, because the temperament of his mind was habitually so. 
The kindness of his natural disposition became benevolence in his 
religion, and induced him, in his quiet and unobtrusive way, " to set 
forward the salvation of all men " within his sphere of influence. 

His cheerfulness in the social circle, — how he loved and enjoyed his 
select neighbors and friends in the familiar intercourse of evening 
recreations and readings at his own house, at theirs, will be remem- 
bered afresh by the yet li^^ng, who participated therein. 

It was observed by his intimate friends that the labors and cares of 
1 833 were not sustained with quite his usual degree of physical vigor 
and elasticity. He was advised to take some relaxation, which he 
could scarcely be said to have done during his residence in Lowell. 
The summer was an inconvenient time for him to be absent, and he 
did not get away until the beginning of August. He then took a 
journey to New York and Philadelphia. But, his strength did not 
recruit. As he returned, on his way home, he was cold at times, and, 
when he alighted at his door, in the chill of the evening, from the 
stage which had brought him from Boston, August 23d, he went 
directly to his chamber, which he never left again. A fever, insidious 
and fatal, had seized upon him, and having run through a course of 
anxious fears, and trembling hopes, and assiduous attention, on the 
thirteenth of September, terminated his valuable life. 


The next clay there appeared, in a Lowell paper, of which the 
editor was Mr. J. Sleeper, afterwards of Boston, the following 
obituary : — 

In this town, last evening, Warren Colburn, Esq., Superintendent of the Mer- 
rimack INIanufacturing Company, aged 40 years. 

Mr. Colburn graduated at Harvard, in 1820, and scrupulously fulfilled, through 
life, all the duties incumbent on him as'a man and as a Christian ; and, his death 
will be severely felt, not only by his family, but by a numerous circle, to whom he 
was endeared by the ties of friendship and afFcetion. It may be truly eaid of him 
that his mind was, intellectually and morally, of the highest grade. His labors 
to advance the cause of education are well-known to the world ; and, his admira- 
ble treatises on Arithmetic and Algebra are acknowledged as standard works, and 
are introduced into almost all our schools and academies. Many important improve- 
ments in the machinery of our manufacturing establishments are the fruits of his 
scientifio researches and ingenuity. Indeed, he was always devising plans to im- 
prove his fellow-citizens in knowledge and virtue. His heart was full of philan- 
throphy, and his study, through life, seemed to be to do good. But, he is taken 
away in the prime of his usefulness. His pilgTimage is now over, and he has 
reaped the reward of the blessed. 

Mr. Colburn had been a resident in Lowell for nearly ten [about nine] years; 
and, always identified himself with the interests of the inhabitants. The loss of 
such a man makes a chasm in society ; and, years may elapse before it will be 

The following appeared in the same paper, September 16th, the 
day of his interment, and is from the pen of the late Elisha Bartlett, 
M.D., then a distinguished citizen of Lowell: — 

" Dust to dust, and ashes to ashes," is the perpetually impending sentence of 
the Creator upon his creatures. And, amid more than common gloom, is that 
sentence this day uttered over the remains of the lamented Colburn. It is not 
our purpose to enter into a history of the life, or to indulge in anything like an 
elaborate consideration of the character of our departed townsman ; for, we have 
neither the means nor the ability requisite to the performance of this melancholy, 
but delightful duty : neither, as vve well-know, can any poor words of ours lighten 
the sorrow or break up the darkness which his death has shed over a bereaved 
and afflicted family. But, in the privilege of friendship, we indulge the last sad 
pleasure of leaving our simple memorial to the memory of one whom we knew, 
and loved, and have lost. 

Mr. Colburn was, in its best and broadest meaning, a great and a good man. To no 
other individual, either among the dead or the living, has the cause of education 
in New England been more indebted than to him. His mind was thoroughly 
itnbued with the best of all philanthropy, that which labors to make itself opera- 
tive and practical, — -which is felt not only by its possessor, but by all within the 
Bphere of its influence. He not only desired the improvement and happiness of 
his.specit s, but he set himself to work out that improvement, and to place its con- 
eequent happiness in their reach. He did not indulge in indolent and unproduct- 
ive dreams about the perfectibility of man ; but, while he yielded to none in the 
ardor with which he wished to witness this consummation, he also, which is far 
better, yielded to none in zealous endeavor for its accomplishment. To judge of 
a man's character with any thing like fairness, we must take into the estimate the 
circumstances by which it would be probably influenced. These, in the present 
case, so far as they can be so under our institutions, were untoward. Mr. Colburn 
was not born amid the shades of academic bowers, and neither the smiles of the 
opulent nor the patronage of the great greeted his entrance into life ; yet, he won 
his way honorably to the high places of science, and sat down, a peer, among the 
benefactors of his race. He was self-made, — the sole architect of his fortune and 

From these qualities of the head, we turn to those'better ones of the heart, 
which, after all, constituted the principal charm, and the crowning excellence of 


Mr. Colburn's character. Like tlie habitual smile on liis countenance, ho had a 
seren.ty of soul which could have been the result only of high honor, sound prin- 
ciple, and genuine piety. His moral worth, like his mental power, was quiet and 
unobtrusive, and no man ever bore his honors more mi ckly than he. His religion 
was the fruit both of feeling and of thought, and it shed a constant and celestial 
light over the "daily beauty " of his life. Rarely has it been our lot to witness 
the elements of all excellencies so harmoniously minghd. lie is taken from ns in 
the "midst of his days," in the prime of Jns usefulness, and, as in our short- 
sightedness we are accustomed to say, prematurely. But, why prematurely? 
How fully and how nobly has he accomplished the highest purposes of our earthly 
existence, and although, when measured by the lapse of years, his life has been 
short; it has been long, if we estimate it as we should, by its fruits and its issues. 
He lived the happiest and the most enviable of all lives. — that of the Christian 
Philosopher: he died the happiest and most enviable of all deaths, — that of the 


The friends of the late Dr. Bartlett will recognize, in the above, the 
familiar and unmistakable features of bis own mind and pen. 

In a weekly religious paper, entitled the Observer, edited at tbe 
time by Rev. Mr. Hand, appeared the following, as editorial. 

We are not used to the work of writing euloginms upon the dead ; but, our 
feelings instinctively urge us to say something respecting the man whose name is 
at the head of this article. 

Warren Colburn, taken all in all, was a most wonderful man. There was in 
him a combination of qualities which rendered him a friend to all, and which 
commanded the love of all. His was not a life of inaction. He lived to some 
purpose. With a constitution little fitted to the rough and stormy scenes of life, 
he set himself to work in his own appropriate sphere, and no man ever accom- 
plished more. We have undei-stood that Mr. Colburn's early life was not spent, 
jis we should conjecture, from his attainments, amidst all the advantages of schools 
and academies ; but, that he labored amidst great disadvantages in these respects. 
He was strictly a self made man. His efforts were well directed and efficient in 
respect to the improvement of the young. His Arithmetic introduced a new era 
in the history of that science, and opened the way for the numerous systems 
which have since been raised upon his superstructure. 

His series of reading books have been also extensively adopted in all our schoob, 
and are well adapted to secure the interest and profit of the schools. 

He was an agent of the Merrimack Manufacturing Company in this place ; 
which has sustained, in his death, an almost irreparable loss. 

His attainments were great in all the branches of Mathematics and general 
science, and the cause of education through the country owes to his influence much 
of its present prosperity. 

His disposition was amiable, and his hand was extended to all, without distinc- 
tion, who claimed his friendship. He always appeared smiling and cheerful, and 
we arc assured that he scarcely ever seemed less cheerful at his own fireside than 
in public. 

Such was Warren Colburn, in his scientific and social qualities; but, from 
what we have seen and heard we should presume that his heart was impressed 
with the importance of deep and fervent piety. If we are not mistaken in this, 
Mr. Colburn presented a singular instance of a mind bent upon literary attainments, 
and yet deeply imbued with a spirit of religion. We would that all our men of 
learning were as sensible of their own mortality, and of the need of a preparation 
for the future life, as he was. 

But, he is gone. His remains are with us; his immortal spirit has, we trust, 
gone to expand its powers, and to n)ake more lofty flights in a purer and holier 
atmosphere. He has built his own monument, and it will stand longer than the 
mementos which other men can raise to perpetuate his virtues. The breaches 
which God thus makes, he alone can repair. Let us look to him in all our auc- 
tion, as he possesses the sources of consolations. 


These articles, occasioned by the event of his death, serve to give 
expression of the prevalent feeling as pervading different portions of 
the community at the time of his departure. lie was interred in 
Lowell ; but, his body was afterwards removed to Mount Auburn, . 
where a modest and durable monument was placed by his literary 
friends over his grave, with a simple inscription. 

There will be added a few general impressions from the reminiscences 

of surviving friends, as more recently expressed. 

" There are few men," says his friend, Mr. Batchelder, " who, in so short and 
quiet a life, have done so much good, and rendered their name so familiar. I 
remember, many years ago, on visiting, with him, a school in New Hampshire, on 
the invitation of the instructors and others interested in the school, that when I 
introduced hira to one of the Trustees of the Institution, he manifested much sur- 
prize at his youthful appearance, and asked, ' Is this Mr. Colburn, the Mathema- 
tician ? ' remarking that, having heard so much of him, and of the good he had 
done in the world, he expected to see a man with gray hairs and bent with age." 

His friend, Mr. Sherwin, says : — 

Mr. Colburn was remarkable for simplicity of manners and character, sincerity, 
a high regard for truth, and an atniableness which endeared him to all his 

James Hay ward, Esq., says : — 

Mr. Colburn was a modest unobtrusive man. I was first attracted by his scien- 
tific tendencies and tastes. I then sought his further acquaintance. I was struck 
with the strength and clearness of his mind, and the tendency of his inquiries to 
the practical and the useful. And, I was charmed with his simplicity and direct- 
ness, his perft-ct truthfulness and honesty of thought and purpose. He was a man 
in whom there was no guile. His simplicity and directness were seen in all his 
pursuits ; as well in his business as in his scientific inquiries, and his intercourse 
with soeitty. In all, he was a man in earnest. I remember that I early got these 
impressions of him, and used to embrace every convenient opportunity of being in 
his society. His love of science made his society both entertaining and instruct- 
ive, and the simplicity and benignity of his character made it absolutely charming. 
I reckon it among the peculiar blessings of my life, that I have been permitted to 
enjoy the acquaintance and friendship of such a man. The tendency of his mind 
was to scientific accuracy; and, he exercised it in the higher subjects of philoso- 
phical inquiry. His attainments in analytical mathematics were eminent ; and, it 
is known that, in his leisure from business, he applied himself to the solution of 
some of the most difficult problems in astronomical science. But, the tendency of 
his mind was, as I have said, to the practical in knowledge. His study was to 
simplify science, — to make it accessible to common minds; and, in my opinion, his 
elementary books are instances of great success in this way ; especially the " First 
Lessons in Arithmetic." I hold in great admiration Mr. Colburn's character as a 
student in science, a practical philosopher, a man, and a Christian. These are 
the impressions which he rtiado on me ; and, the lapse of more than twenty years 
has not tended to effiice them. 

James A. Treat, Esq., of Pittsfield, N. H., says : — 

When I left Cambridge, 1832, I went into Mr. Colburn's counting-room, and 
remained there until his summons came. While in his counting-room, I became 
better acquainted. I there began to appreciate the good and noble qualities of his 
character. There, with others, I was irresistibly drawn to love and respect him. 
There I learned to admire his uniform urbanity, his pleasant look, his kind word, 
in giving directions or advice. Even in giving admonition, if necessary, liis kind- 
ness was seen and felt. 

In my mind's eye, I can now see hira at his office. I can see his mild and 


placid countenance, at his pleasant Iiome. I can see him at the lecture room ; 
giving instruction, — laboring hard and long for the good of his fellow-citizens. I 
can see his overseers, his operatives, his clerks, all having but one universal love 
and regard for him while living, — having but one universal tear at his departure. 
The eye of faith can now see him engaged in more exalted duties, and reaping a 
higher reward. 

In personal appearance, Mr. Colburn was decidedly pleasing. His 
height was five feet ten, and his figure well proportioned. His face 
was one not to be forgotten. Persons have often been heard to say, 
were they artists, they could portray his countenance correctly. Dr. 
Furness, in his college reminiscence, says : " We used to admire Col- 
burn's grand large eye." The distinguishing features of his face were 
his eyes and his mouth ; both indicating the sweetness of his disposi- 
tion, his benevolence, intelligence, and refinement. His manner was 
often abstracted, indicating intense thought ; but, when his attention was 
called to persons and things about him, it was always with a counte- 
nance beaming with love and benevolence. The Rev. S. B. Babcock, 
of Dedham, gives the following anecdote : "I was a guest at his table, 
many years since, and he sat down to dinner in a silent, meditative 
mood, scarcely noticing his guests or his household. I supposed him 
rather destitute of conversational powers, and contented myself with 
looking upon, without listening to, the distinguished mathematician. 
About mid-dinner he suddenly exclaimed, ' I see it now : I think it will 
work.' He soon informed us he had been inspecting a rotary fire 
engine ; but, did not quite understand the scientific principle. When 
his mind was at rest, he displayed colloquial powei-s highly gratifying 
and instructive." 

Of his hesitancy of speech, his friends were not so much aware as 
a stranger might be. He was not fluent in conversation; neither was 
there any physical impediment. He used to say that he did not write 
easily, and attributed it to his want of early practice. Perhaps the 
hesitancy, which some observed, may have arisen from the like cause. 
In conversation, he was always desirous of using the most correct and 
expressive language, and endeavored to select the best words. In 
choosing his words, there was sometimes observable a slight 

His disposition was remarkable for its evenness and serenity. Though 
possessed of great sensibility and feeling, he was never elated or 
depressed, but always cheerful. 

The lapse of time has taken largely from the number of Mr. Col- 
burn's acquaintances and friends, and has buried in oblivion much 
that should have been seasonably recorded. One ©f the most intimate 
of his friends, James G. Carter, Esq., survived him about sixteen 
years; and, in June, 1849, writing to Mrs. Colburn, relative to some 


letters, &c., says : " You must find, or must have found, in looking 
over Mr. Colburn's papers, many more letters of mine, if they were 
preserved. They were not, probably, of much value, except as a 
transcript of my heart at the time : for, no man ever drew out my 
heart as did Warren Colburn. No one has ever filled the aching 
void made by his loss. 

If I can aid you about it, [a small matter of business,] I shall be 
most happy to do so when I return from Michigan, whither I expect 
to go, with Mrs. Carter and Ann Eliza, next week. [He went on this 
projected journey, and never returned ; but, died in Chicago, a few 
weeks after the date of this letter. He goes on to say,] So I cannot 
see you till I return. Then, why will you not come up to see us, and 
bring your daughters. Mary looks like her father; and, when I 
think of the long, unbroken friendship that existed between Mr. Col- 
burn and myself, I cannot bear to have his children grow up without 
knowing them. Warren came to see me once or twice while he was 
stationed at Shirley, on the Fitchburg road ; and, I once went over 
on purpose to see him, but he was off at some other post on his line 
of operations, and that closed my acquaintance with him. I have 
often inquired about him, and always hear of him as being a good 
character, and giving promise of distinction in his profession. 

Our habits, pursuits, and associations may have led us far asunder; 
but, I always revert to my acquaintance with you and Mr. Colburn, 
with the greatest satisfaction, and often feel quite sad that such pleas- 
ant reminiscences should fade away without a stronger effort to revive 
and perpetuate them." 

To revive and perpetuate the fast fading reminiscences of one so 
widely yet so little known, has been the purpose of this desultory 
article. If its perusal should awaken in the mind of any reader fur- 
ther recollections of one so deserving of remembrance, it is hoped they 
too may be put on record for preservation, in order so to increase the 
stock of material that some more skillful hand may weave these gath- 
ered shreds into a Memoir, worthy of the name and character of 
Wareen Colburn. 


Gideon F. Thater, founder of Chauncy Hall School, Boston, — 
an establishment which he planned and conducted on a scale of liber- 
ality and with a degree of success seldom exemplified previously in 
any private seminary founded and maintained by the efforts of an 
individual unaided by any association, — was born in Watertown, 
Mass., Sept. 21, 1793 ; and the circumstances of his early life are 
worthy of notice, as testifying to the effectual character of the mental 
foundation laid, at that day, by the Massachusetts common school sys- 
tem of education, limited, as it comparatively was, in extent. To the 
operation of that system, and to his own otherwise unaided self-culture, 
Mr. Thayer owes all that he attained in the way of intellectual ad- 
vancement. His father was a house-builder and carpenter. His grand- 
parents, however, on both sides, were officers in the Revolutionary 
army, — a circumstance which doubtless had its influence in the active 
part which he afterwards took in the duties of the military company 
of " Rangers" formed in Boston at the beginning of the war of 1812. 

Mr. Thayer's years of boyhood were passed principally in Brookline 
and Boston, till the age of fourteen, when he entered a retail store, as 
clerk, in which capacity he continued for six years. In 1814 he com- 
menced his course of life as a teacher. His style of penmanship, for 
which, when a schoolboy, he had obtained a Franklin medal, enabled 
him successfully to apply for the situation of usher in the " South 
Writing School " of Boston, then under the care of Mr. Rufus Webb. 

Mr. Thayer's labors in instruction were interrupted, in 1818, by a 
hemorrhage at the lungs, which, though checked by the invigorating 
effect of a resort to New Orleans and a horseback journey home, was 
followed by white swelling in the knee, which suspended his teaching for 
a year longer. In 1820 he was able to resume his vocation, but in a 
private school, on a very limited scale. His characteristic energy and 
devoted attention to his school, however, soon brought him a large 
increase of pupils; and, in 1828, the confidence felt in his success was 
such as to enable him to command, on credit, the means of purchasing 
the eligible site in Chauncy Place (now Chauncy Street), on which, 


with the aid of a similar pecuniary foundation, his school edifice was 

The plan of the building was on a liberal scale of accommodation 
for all educational purposes, and embraced, in addition to the improve- 
ments then recently exemplified in some European school structures, 
several original features conducive to the physical and moral as well 
as intellectual purposes of education. The principle of the division 
of labor was carried to a much greater extent than in any private 
school at that time existing in our New England cities. The various 
branches of education usually pursued in preparation either for com- 
mercial or collegiate life, were distributed among a numerous corps of 
accomplished teachers; the principal reserving to his own more inime- 
diate care the departments of penmanship, orthography, and elocution, 
together with that of moral instruction, to which a regular daily atten- 
tion was given, in conjunction with the subjects of practical habits and 
person."! manners. On these latter points Mr. T. possesses a remark- 
able talent for commanding and holding the attention of a youthful 
audience. His brief addresses on such themes always enkindled a 
warmth of sympathy amounting to enthusiasm. His pupils were ever 
aware that he had at heart their moral progress much more than 
merely their intellectual advancement. They daily heard from his 
lips the noblest sentiments; and the most apposite examples of every 
virtue were introduced in striking in.stances from history and biogra- 
phy and daily occurrences in actual life. 

The scale on which Mr. Thayer commenced Chauncy Hall School 
seemed, at the time, to some mind.s, too broad and too high to be sus- 
tained by an unaided individual ; and not a few ventured to prophesy 
the failure of an experiment so bold. But its projeclor was aware of 
the force of that impulse which, at the time, actuated the general mind 
of New England, and of Boston in particular, on the whole subject of 
education, and on improved methods of instruction. With character- 
istic energy and enterprise, and indefatigable perseverance, he labored 
at his chosen work ; and every year added its testimony to his ample 
success, till, yielding to the requirements of health, he withdrew to 
less exhausting pursuits at the close of the year 1855. The school, 
however, continues to flourish on its original plan, and, under the 
direction of Mr. Thomas Gushing, himself formerly its pupil, realizes 
all the liberal views of its founder. 

Mr. Thayer's success in life is due to a strong and well-founded 
self-confidence, an(! to a tireless activity and energy — an inborn 
necessity for doing — which were abundantly shown in his early 
efforts at self-improvement, and which have ever since made him an 


efficient helper in many enterprises of* benevolence and mental and 
moral improvement, other than his profession. During the fifty-five 
years while Mr. Thayer has been earning his living in Buston, his 
interest in human progress has been unflagging, and his cooperation 
in all efibrts for its promotion, whether in the city or in the suburban 
towns, where he has in part resided, constant and hearty. 

While yet a youth, he was a member of a literary association called 
" The Belles-Lettres Club," which met weekly to read original com- 
positions ; was afterward, from 1825 to 1835, a member of the Bos- 
ton Debating Society ; and at still later periods belonged to " reading 
circles" together with such men as Dr. W. E. Channing, Dr. Follen, 
Dr. Tuckerman, Mr. Timothy Walker, &c. While a clerk he pursued 
a course of study in French, under M. Sales, in hours saved from 
business. After becoming an usher in the South Writing School, he 
continued, outside of school hours, to assist his former employer ; and 
at the same time taught an evening school for the instruction of young 
men and apprentices in reading, writing, and arithmetic. 

He early enlisted in the Sunday-school enterprise, was a teacher in 
Dr. Channing's school (now Dr. Gannett's), afterwards superintend- 
ent of that of Dr. Pierce's church at Brookline, and again in Dr. 
Lunt's at Quincy. The latter school, indeed, had been wholly discon- 
tinued, but under Mr. Thayer's vigorous ministrations grew to a total 
number of two hundred and twenty persons within a period of two 
years. He was for some time an agent of the Boston S. S. Society, 
and in that capacity visited many schools and delivered many addresses 
in various parts of New England ; and since leaving the office he has 
still, from time to time, performed much of the same duty. 

While residing in Quincy, Mr. Thayer lectured and labored with 
effect for the establishment of the high school there ; was actual editor 
of a weekly paper, the Quincy Patriot, devoted to literature and 
material and mental improvement ; was president of the lyceum for 
one year, during which was furnished the longest and best course of 
lectures ever enjoyed in Quincy ; and was — as, indeed, elsewhere at 
various times — member of the business committee of his parish. 

He was one of the founders of the American Institute of Instruc- 
tion, of the American Association for the Advancement of Education, 
of the Norfolk County Teachers' x\ssociation, — one of the earliest 
bodies of its class, — and of the Massachusetts State Teachers' Asso- 
ciation. He has attended most of the meetings of these bodies, and 
has held distinguished official positions in them. He was one of the 
editors of the Massachusetts Teacher for 1848 ; was many years chair- 
man of the managers of the Bo.^ton Dispensary; wms one of a commit- 


tee for raising a fund for the Washingtonian Total Abstinence Society, 
which gathered five thousand dollars in one season ; was six years a 
member of the Common Council of Boston, and, while such, a member 
of the Counuittee on Public Instruction, a visitor of the Boston Luna- 
tic Hospital, one of the originators of the movement for establishing 
the Boston Public Library, and assisted in forming the Association of 
Franklin Medal Scholars. 

Mr. Thayer's liberality of views and strong practical common sense 
have been markedly shown in his ready appreciation of improvements, 
and in his independence of personal action. Only a little later than 
1820, he had, in connection with his school, some apparatus for phys- 
ical exercise ; and was then accustomed to take his pupils, at recess, 
to Boston Common, for open-air exercise and practice. He was con- 
nected with the gymnastic school which was under the care of Dr. C. 
Follen, and afterwards of Dr. Francis Lieber ; and was early a quiet 
cooperator with Mr. Josiah Holbrook in introducing into schools a 
department of natural science. 

To the younger members of his former profession Mr. Thayer has 
furnished a noble example of zeal and industry, and of entire devot- 
edness to the daily duties of a teacher's life, in all the relations of 
promptness, punctuality, vigilance, regularity, and order; of strictness 
cf requirement, yet generous allowance for the imperfections of child- 
hood and youth, a warm sympathy with juvenile feelings, and unfail- 
ing readiness to aid the recovery of the erring to duty and to happi- 
ness. He has left also to those who are entering on the teacher's life 
the benefit of his example, in the earnestness with which he has 
engaged in all social and civil duties as a mem.ber of the community, 
never allowing himself to plead his school engagements as an excuse 
for omitting those of any just claim on his attention and efiective 
action as a man, as a neighbor, or a citizen. 

Every moment of school hours was sacredly devoted to its particu- 
lar use ; and hours of gratuitous attention were sedulously given to the 
voluntary discharge of extra duties of all sorts connected with the 
daily work of teaching. Yet so economically was every moment of 
the day planned and distributed, that no call of public or private duty 
seemed ever to be neglected. By method rigorously exact, and a 
military promptitude of habit and action, he was enabled to meet the 
demands of a multitude of professional and extra-professional duties 
connected with ofiicial stations in city life and beneficent associations 
in town and country. An active intermingling with society, and a 
liberal stake in the business of life, he deemed an aid, not a hindrance, 
to the true success of a teacher as an educator of men. 


To one who, for successive years, enjoyed dally opportunity of 
observing Mr. Thayer's operations in the school-room, we are indebted 
for the following testimony : 

" One could not be long within the sphere of his influence, as an 
instructor, without being fully convinced that he had fallen into the 
niche for which nature had designed him ; that he was a master in 
every sense of the word. His dignified person and manners bore the 
seal of authority legibly impressed upon them ; while his exact and 
thorough knowledge of whatever he undertook to teach was immedi- 
ately apparent in his mode of communicating it. It was evident that, 
regarding the trust reposed in him as an important one, he was en- 
deavoring to fill it with conscientiousness, earnestness, and efficiency; 
that he knew no half measures in his share of the work of instruction, 
and would be satisfied with none on the part of his pupils. 

" In his ideas of his duty as a teacher Mr. Thayer was eminently 
conscientious. In taking charge of another's child, he felt, in its full 
force, what is made the legal obligation of the public teacher, to con- 
sider himself in loco parentis. Everything was to be done by him 
that could conduce to the improvement of the mind, heart, health, or 
manners of the precious charge. He did not consider his duty done 
by going through any formal routine of lessons or hours, but would 
labor in season and out of season ; ever trying some new expedient to 
reach conscience or intellect, hoping against hope, and dismayed by no 
amount of dulness or unappreciating indifierence. 

" Personal comfort, or the enjoyment of time that might fairly be 
considered his own, were never thought of by him, when, by the sac- 
rifice of them, there was a possibility of improving those under his 
charge. Years of time have been devoted by him in extra and self- 
imposed labor which could never have been expected of him. But 
such labor was not unrewarded. Impressions were often produced 
that could hardly have been looked for ; and the animus of the 
teacher came to bo understood even by the reckless and negligent. 
Whatever his requisitions or inflictions, his pupils felt that he was 
conscientiously acting for their benefit ; and in maturer years, if not 
at the time, have acknowledged their obligations. Independent of 
any literary improvement, a valuable lesson was thus taught them, 
that was never forgotten. 

" Earnestness was eminently characteristic of Mr. Thayer as a 
teacher. Regarding his duty as highly important, he undertook the 
discharge of it with all his might. Holding nothing unimportant in 
a work that is made up of particulars, a chain of many links, he 
would not allow one of them to pass from his hand unskilfully forged, 



or carelessly polished and united. He was equally alive to the neces- 
sity of correcting an error or impressing a truth the ten thousandth 
time as the first, and would use the same liveliness of manner and 
clearness of illustration to impress it on the young mind. The writer 
can distinctly remember, after the lapse of thirty years, when various 
points of propriety and correctness were indelibly impressed upon his 
mind. Education, under Mr. Thayer's direction, was no sleepy pro- 
cess, no mere matter of books, or routine of question and answer, but 
something that called out the whole man, warm, fresh, and glowing 
with his subject. Possessed of much native eloquence and power of 
illustration and persuasion, Mr. Thayer used them freely, and often 
successfully, to warn, guide, and encourage; and his brief but im- 
pressive addresses have planted much good seed in the minds and 
hearts of his hearers. Mean, selfish, and unmanly actions received a 
withering condemnation from his lips, and the doers of them were 
glad to hide their abashed heads ; while no one could better portray 
the honest, th'e just, the magnanimous in conduct, and confirm his 
hearers in the practice of them. Mr. Thayer had the qualities that 
go to make the orator or the advocate, and would, no doubt, have 
succeeded as well at the bar, or in the pulpit, as in the school-room. 
Believing that important ends were to be attained, he threw himself 
into his work with an ardor that increased rather than diminished 
with increasing years and experience, — not the mere sudden and 
quickly-spent fire of the novice, but the steady, undying warmth of 
the veteran. 

" Exactness and thoroughness were original qualities of his mind, 
and were fully brought into play in the exercise of his profession. 
Whatever he knew, he ivholly knew, and tried to impart in all its 
entireness. In his favorite department of elocution, he had early 
made the orthoepy of the English language his special study, and had 
fixed in his mind the best authorized pronunciation of every word in 
it; at least, during a long intimacy, the writer never knew him at a 
loss to decide promptly and correctly when appealed to in regard to 
any doubtful or disputed point. The characteristics and habits of 
mind which will enable any one to do this, will be appreciated by 
those to whom the troublesome subject of English pronunciation is 
ever new, and whose minds are never fully settled in regard to it. 
His mind held, with a vice-like tenacity, anything connected with the 
subject, and reprodq,ced it at the shortest notice. As a consequence, 
his teaching in this or any other branch that he undertook was 
marked by an unusual degree of promptness and accuracy. If there 
was a best way, he was master of it, and wished his pupils to be also ; 



and a large proportion of them imbibed a part of his spirit, and real- 
ized corresponding results. 

" Prompt, careful, and accurate habits, he considered an essential 
part of education, and the formation and cultivation of them an im- 
portant part of his mission as a teacher; and, though success usually 
crowned his efforts, the battle was constantly to be fought over again 
with each new host of thoughtless and undisciplined children. But 
his zeal never flagged ; his ardor never abated. His short and pithy 
precepts still ring in the ears of thousands, who, among other benefits, 
have to thank him for giving them strict business habits. 

" In all these respects Mr. Thayer required nothing of his pupils of 
which he did not set them the most rigid example. lie believed in 
no teaching in which he did not lead the way. If punctuality was 
required, who was earlier at his post than he ? * If regularity in the 
discharge of duty, when did he ever allow the pressure of outside 
business to interrupt the expected engagements of the day ? If noth- 
ing slovenly, lounging, or careless, in habits or manners was admis- 
sible, who more graceful in language or gesture, who more uniformly 
urbane and courteous ? He came before his pupils as great orators 
go before their hearers, as worthy of his best efforts, and not to be 
insulted with anything slipshod or unfinished. 

" Mr. Thayer had great executive ability. He could arrange work 
for the various departments of a large school, and see that it was all 
performed, as well as his own share, which was always heavy. He 

* None who were either pupils or teachers in Chauncy Hall School In the fierce winter of 182^ 
30 can ever forget one memorable instance of his spirit and habit in this respect. During the 
season refeiTed to his family home was situated on Milton Hill. One Saturday afternoon, when 
bound homeward on his weekly respite from the toils of the school-room, there cjime on one of the 
most terrific snow-storms of our New England clime. Such was the force of the storm, and such 
the depth of the snow that fell, and accumulated in unprecedented drifts, that, after reaching, 
with incredible labor, and late in the evening, the foot of the hill, Mr. Thiiyer and his driver toiled 
till late in the niglit, or rather early in the morning, without success, to reach his house. Human 
strength was inadequate to the task ; and Mr. Thayer was at last compelled to relinquish the 
attempt, and return to the hotel near Dorchester Lower Mills. The snow embargo was so com- 
plete that all travelling, even to the shortest distance, was suspended on the following day. On 
Monday morning, no human being expected to be able to reach Boston during the day. But, 
contrary to all dissuasion from the attempt, and with no slight dilBcuUy in being permitted to 
make it, Mr. Thayer set out on foot, soon after sunrise ; and, battling with the immense drifts in 
the road, walking on the walls, which had in some places been left bare, and occasionally making 
a detour into the fields, which the violent winds had cleared of obstructions, — in spite of every 
obstacle, at half-past eleven A. M., to the utter astonishment of pupils and teachers, the indomi- 
table principal entered Chauncy Hall, amid the irrepressible burst of cheers with which he was 
hailed as the only human being who had reached Boston from such a distance that day. His 
clothes were thoroughly saturated with perspiration, and his strength wholly exhausted ; but he 
had accomplished what he resolved to do. The usual morning moral lesson of the school was 
probably not read at the wonted hour of that memorable day. But the living exemjilification of 
manly energy and perseverance, in the afternoon, left an impression which a lifctirae's tear and 
wear of the world would hardly cfTace. 


could carry in his mind all the different processes and arrangements 
that were necessary to make the whole machine work harmoniously, 
and hold in his hand all the cords that regulated its powers, without 
omitting any of the smallest details of his own teaching. All his 
pupils, in their ever-varying characters, with all the elements of good 
and evH that went to make up their disposition and habits, were ever 
present to his mind ; and prompt action in regard to them might cer- 
tainly be expected in the mode most conducive to each one's well- 
being. He undertook and executed an amount of labor that would 
have appalled most men, and devised systems of individual responsi- 
bility, which, though highly efficacious and useful to the pupils, brought 
unceasing care and labor upon himself. Active industry was his ele- 
ment ; and his toil was lightened by the positive pleasure that he 
seemed to take in the various processes of school instruction ; for 
upon no other principle can I account for his successfully bearing so 
heavy a load for so long a period, with little or no concession to the 
claims of physical weakness or infirmity. 

" Mr. Thayer ever evinced a most liberal and generous spirit in his 
position as a prominent private teacher. He was never willing that 
* chill penury ' should close the avenues of learning to any one who 
had a desire to enter them, as far as they were under his control. 
Many pupils were received into his school as freely as if it had been 
a public establishment, if they had a desire to profit by its advan- 
tages j and no one was allowed to leave it from the want of ability on 
the part of his friends to comply with its moderate terms. He held 
that education was twice blessed, and that he could not diffuse its 
advantages too widely. He took great interest in the career of his 
pupils upon leaving school, and spared no amount of personal pains 
to further their views, and obtain them good situations in business. 

" Such active and persistent efforts in teaching, put forth in the same 
field for nearly forty years, have not been without result. He has 
made his mark upon a large number of the active business men of 
Boston, who have been his pupils ; and not of Boston only ; they may 
be found all over the globe, wherever honorable enterprise carries the 
American merchant ; and, wherever they meet, their school days, and 
the maxims and precepts of their teacher, are a bond of union and 
source of pleasant reminiscence among them." 

Although an active and influential member of the American Insti- 
tute of Instruction, and a frequent and always acceptable participant 
in the discussion of topics connected with the instruction, discipline, 
and management of schools, in teachers' meetings, Mr. Thayer has 
not contributed largely to the educational publications of his time. 


His lectures before the Institute — the first on " TJw Spelling of 
Words, and a Rational Method of Teaching their Meajiing" Iq 
1830 ; and the last, on the " Connection of Courtesy with School 
Instruction,'^ in 1840 — have been widely circulated and read, and 
have had a marked influence on the opinions and practice of teachers. 
So highly was the lecture on " Courtesy " esteemed by Mr*. Mann, 
that he printed it entire in a number of the Common School JouvTud, 
as well as in pamphlet form, and of the last sent a copy to every 
school in Massachusetts. Of a portion of the same lecture Mr. Bar- 
nard has given a circulation of over fifty thousand copies in the form 
of an educational tract, and in his publications on school architecture. 
In 185G Mr. Thayer commenced in the American Journal of Educa- 
tion a series of Letters to a Young Teacher, which he has continued 
in successive numbers, and proposes to continue until he has gone over 
in a plain, practical way all the principal topics of school-keeping. 
These " Letters," when completed and collected in a volume, will bo 
a valuable contribution to our educational literature. 

In consideration of Mr. Thayer's service to the cause of letters, the 
corporation of Harvard College, in 1855, and of Brown University, 
in 1854, conferred on him the honorary degree of Master of Arts. 


A^:^^:^^ ^S..^..^ 

Ed. ion. Journal of Education; (BoPtcrri.j 16:6-29. 


BOSTON, 1826 TO 1829. 

The following are a few particular^ of tbe professional life of Mr. 
William Russell, — the editor of the first periodical published in the 
English language, devoted exclusively to the advancement of Educa- 
tion, and for nearly forty years an active teacher and laborer in the 
educational field. 

Mr. Russell was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and was educated at the 
Latin school, and the university of that city. During his course of 
study in the latter of these institutions, the " Fii*st Philosophy Class," 
— embracing the subjects of intellectual philosophy, logic and rhet- 
oric, — was, fortunately for Mr. Russell, in his subsequent life as a teacher, 
under the care of Professor George Jardine, author of the "Outlines 
of Philosophical Education." That eminent and revered instructor, 
by his zeal and eloquence on his favorite theme, the philosophy of 
human culture, awakened a lively sympathy with his views, in the 
minds of his students. After fifty years noble service, he still retained 
a warm feeling for whatever concerned the subject of education ; as 
he manifested in his cordial expressions of pleasure on the establish- 
ment of the American Journal of Education, in the city of Boston, in 
the year 1826. 

An incipient pulmonary affection made it advisable for Mr. Russell, 
immediately on completing his college coui-se, to leave his native land, 
for a residence in a warmer climate. He came, accordingly, to the 
State of Georgia, in the year 1817 ; and, deeming it unadvisable, at so 
early a stage of life, to accept the offered situation of " rector" of an 
academy, commenced the business of instruction, as a private tutor, 
in the family of a distinguished Georgian statesman. 

In this occupation, he passed, advantageously to his health, a few 
of the earlier years of his life as a teacher. He subsequently revisited 
Scotland ; but, at the solicitation of his southern friends, returned in 
the year following to the State of Georgia, and for two years, took 
charge of the Chatham Academy, in the city of Savannah. His mar- 
riage connection with a lady from the state of Connecticut, creating a 
preference for a family residence in the city of New Haven, he taught 
there for some years, the New Township Academy, and the Hopkins 


Grnnmiar School, — the prep;ii"atory classical seminary connected with 
Yale College. 

The peculiar form of illness, to which Mr. Kussell is liable in cold lati- 
tudes, having returned, a less sedentary mode of teaching became de- 
sirable for him ; and with a view to the benefit of such a change, 
he commenced the instruction of classes in elocution, in connection 
with the Theological Seminary at Andover, the University at Cam- 
bridge, the Public Latin School, and Chauncy Hall School, in the city 
of ]3oston. Soon after this change of occupation, he was invited to 
take the editorial charge of the American Journal of Education, pub- 
lished in Boston, first by Mr. Thomas B. Wait, in 182G, next by Mr. 
S. G. Goodrich, and subsequently by Messrs. Carter & Ilendee. Mr. 
•iiassell continued to conduct this periodical for nearly three years 
from the date of its publication. 

The early direction given to Mr. Russell's studies and pursuits by the 
influence of Professor Jardine, led him to take a deep interest in the 
general subject of modes of education, in their adaptation to the de- 
velopment of mind and character. This circumstance subsequently 
proved a useful preparation for the business of conducting an educa- 
tional journal at a time -when, as yet, no publication of that descrip- 
tion existed in our own countr}^ or in England; although the light 
shed on the whole subject of education by the labors of Pestalozzi, 
had excited, throughout Europe and America, a fresh interest on all 
the great questions involved in the various departments of physical, 
intellectual, and moral culture. 

The only Journals then devoted to the subject of education, were 
those of Germany, France, and, perhaps, one or two other countries 
on the continent of Europe. The necessity of important changes in 
the plan and character of education, was beginning to be deeply felt 
in England. But this feeling had hitherto been expressed only in 
detached suggestions from the minds of individuals, in occasional 
pam]>hlets, or similar forms of publication. In the United States, the 
condition of matters was much the same as in England; although, in 
some instances, the degree of attention excited on the subject, was 
both stronger and more definite. 

Warren Colburn's invaluable contribution to the improvement of 
education, in the publication of his Intellectual Arithmetic, had vir- 
tually introduced the spirit of Pestalozzi*s methods of instruction 
into the schools of New England ; and much had been eftected by 
the diffusion of liberal views on the whole subject of education, by 
Mr. James G. Carter, through his numerous and able editorial articles 
in the United States Literary Gazette. 


Much also had been Uono toward the same results by the success- 
ful exertions of Professor Walter R. Johnson, in connection with the 
establishment of the Franklin Institute, in Philadelphia, and with the 
introduction of the school system of Pennsylvania. Valuable aid 
had been rendered, likewise, to the interests of education, by the ex- 
ertions of the Rev. Mr. Gallaudet, of Hartford, for the introductiuu 
of modes of instruction adapted to seminaries for the deaf and dumb, 
but incidentally shedding a truer light on all forms of mental devel- 
opment. The arduous labors of Mr. Russell, in the unassisted editorial 
care of the Journal of Education, although of no pecuniary benefit 
to him personally, were amply rewarded by the many invaluable re- 
sults to which they led. Prominent among these were the instruc- 
tion of physical education, in various forms, into American semina- 
ries ; more liberal views on the subject of female education ; more 
genial methods of conducting the business of early culture in prima- 
ry schools; the establishment of lyceurns and other jDopular institu- 
tions connected with the diffusion of useful knov/ledge ; the forma- 
tion of Teachers' Associations, and the establishment of seminaries for 

The Journal met with warm encouragement throughout the Union, 
and was extensively used as a vehicle of communication, both for 
developing the views of the friends of education in several of the 
States which were then occupied with the establishment of systems 
of public instruction, and for the diffusion of improved methods of 
teaching, which were then claiming general attention in New England 
and other parts of our country, where the subject of education had 
attained to a more mature stage of advancement. Eminent educators 
and philanthropists abroad, both in England and on the continent, 
gave their cordial sympathy and commendation to the design and 
character of the American Journal, and contributed effectual aid to 
its purposes, by liberal exchanges, and copious supplies of material, 
in the shape of important public documents. 

The editorial care of the Journal, though an exceedingly laborious 
form of occupation, was one which was peculiarly agreeable to Mr. 
Russell, from his personal tastes and habits ; and he would gladly have 
continued it, could he have done so with safety. But the employ- 
ment of conducting ^n educational periodical being necessarily, for 
the most part, a gratuitous service, it could only be performed by 
laboring at night after the days' occupation in teaching. Three years 
of this double toil occasioned a reduction of strength which called 
for a temporary cessation of exertion ; and at the request of an emi- 
nent friend of education, residing in Germantown, Pennsylvania, Mr. 
Russell taught, for several years, a limited class of young ladies, in that 


village, and, subsequently, a school of a similar description, together 
witli private classes, in the city of Philadelphia. 

On his return to Boston, he resumed his former line of teaching 
there and at Andover; attending, at intervals, as lecturer and in- 
structor, at the spring and autumn sessions of Teachers' Institutes in 
the State of Khode Island, under the direction of the Hon. Henry 
Barnard, then State Commissioner of Schools. Mr. Russell was em- 
ployed, also, for some years, in conducting the exercises of similar asso- 
ciations in the State of New Hampshire ; occupying himself, during the 
winter season, for the benefit of a milder climate, in teaching classes 
at Princeton College, and in the cities of New York and Brooklyn. 
In fulfilling these numerous engagements, he was frequently assisted 
by his son, — now Rev. Francis T. Russell, of New Britian, Connecti- 
cut, who, from his interest in the cause of education, still aflfords such 
aid to the Teachers' Institutes of that State. 

In 1849, at the invitation of friends of education in New Hamp- 
shire, Mr. Russell established there a seminary for teachers, which he 
continued to conduct or direct, for several years. But his health inca- 
pacitating him for the active duties of teaching, during the severe 
winters of that region, he was induced, in the spring of 1853, to move 
his Seminary to Lancaster, Massachusetts, where he now resides. 

Mr. Russell commenced his seminary in Lancaster, with liberal aid 
from the local friends of education there, and with the assistance of a 
numerous and superior corps of instructors; among whom were Pro- 
fessor Hermann Kriisi of Switzerland, previously instructor in math- 
ematics and modern languages, in the Home and Colonial Normal 
Seminary of London, and now Instructor in the Massachusetts 
Teachers' Institutes, — Professor William J. Whittaker of London, 
subsequently Principal of the Boston School of Design, and now 
similarly occupied in the city of Philadelphia, — Mr. Dana P. Colburn, 
now Principal of the Rhode Island Normal School, Providence, and 
Sanborn Tenney, A. M., of Amherst College, now Instructor in the 
Massachusetts Teachers' Institutes. 

But the highly liberal couree now adopted by the State of Massa- 
chusetts, in establishing State scholarships in her colleges, for the 
benefit of young men intending to devote themselves to the business 
of teaching in the public high schools of the State, and in the gen- 
erous eucourajrement given to students of both sexes in the State 
Normal Schools to extend their course of professional study, has, to a 
great extent, superseded the necessity of any private establishment 
for the higher professional training of teachers. Mr. Russell, therefore, 
devotes, at present, but a limited portion of the year to instruction in 
Lancaster. During the spring and autumn months, he continues to 



attend the circuit of the Teachers' Institutes of the State, held under 
the direction of the Secretary of the Board of Education. Mr. Rjasseirs 
department in the institutes is that of lecturer and instructor in 
reading and elocution. Part of the year he devotes, as formerly, to 
the instruction of classes in elocution, at several of our New England 
colleges and professional seminaries. 

The principal services which Mr. Russell has rendered by his personal 
exertions in the field of education, have been those of editorial labor, 
the direction of seminaries for teachers, and the instruction of classes 
at Teachers' Institutes. As a practical teacher, however, he has been 
extensively engaged, as a lecturer and teacher in elocution, in semi- 
naries of various grades. A number of his earlier years were spent 
in the usual forms of academic supervision and instruction. His 
modes of teaching, when so situated, he has developed in his course 
of grammatical exercises adapted to his edition of Adams' Latin 
Grammar, — in his Grammar of Composition, and in his Exercises on 
Words. His methods in elocution, adapted to the successive stages 
of instruction, are embodied in his series of reading manuals and 
other text-books,* which have been extensively used in our schools 
and colleges and professional seminaries, and have effectually con- 
tributed to the advancement of a branch of education previously 
much neglected. 

A subject to which Mr. Russell has devoted much attention and which 
he has frequently brought forward at the meetings of teachers, is one 
of common interest to all who devote themselves to teaching as a 
business for hfe, — the importance of placing the occupation on the 
footing of a recognized profession. After his address on this subject, 
before the New Hampshire State Association of Teachers, a committee 
was appointed to report upon it ; and a resolution was subsequently 
passed by that body, that admission to membership in the Association 
should thenceforth take place by professional examination and certifi- 
cate. We hope that Mr. Russell, before withdrawing from the field of 
active labor in education, will enjoy the satisfaction of seeing his 
wishes regarding the distinct recognition of teaching as a profession, 
amply fulfilled throughout our country, and the profession crowded 
with practitioners, trained and qualified to the highest pitch of his 

• A list of these and his other publications we have annexed to this sketch of his profes- 
sional life. It is bat justice, however, to Mr. R. to state, with reference to their large apparent 
number, that his works were not published for pecuniary purposes, but were mostly pre- 
pared at the solicitation of his numerous classes of teachers, for their immediate use. A few 
of them unexpectedly obtained a wide circulation ; but most of them have been serviceable 
ratl»er as pioneers than otherwise. 



HARVEr Prindle Peet was bora in the little town of Bethlem, 
Litchfield Co., Conn., November 19, 1794. Bethlem is one of the 
smallest and roughest towns in the state, but has been remarkably 
favored in the successive ministrations of two great lights of the 
church, the Rev. Joseph Bellamy, D. D., and Rev. Azel Backus, D. D., 
both eminent as theologians, as preachers, and as teachers of youth. 
Dr. Backus, afterward the first president of Hamilton College, con- 
ducted in this town a family school of high character, which attracted 
to Bethlem several families of rare intelligence and refinement. 
Under such influences, the intellectual and religious tone of the 
society in which the earliest years of the subject of this sketch were 
passed, was eminently such as to favor the acquisition of that force of 
character, amenity of manners, and strength of religious feeling for 
which Dr. Peet has ever been distinguished; while at the same time, 
born a farmer's son, and growing up with healthful alternations of 
study, labor and free recreation on the rugged and picturesque hills of 
Litchfield County, he acquired that well developed frame, freedom 
of movement, physical hardihood, and practical tact that have 
eminently fitted him for the exhausting work of a teacher of the 
deaf and dumb. 

His early advantages of education were few. Working on a farm 
in the summer, and attending a district school in the winter, and fond 
of reading at all seasons, like many other New England boys who 
have worked their own way to education, and in the rough process 
acquired the power of working their way to subsequent distinction, 
he began at the early age of sixteen to teach a district school. This 
employment he continued during five winters, till at the age of twen- 
ty-one, he had established a character for ability in his profession, 
which procured him the situation of teacher of English studies in 
schools of a higher class, — at first, in that of Dr. Backus already 
mentioned, in his native town, and afterward in that of Rev. Daniel 
Parker, in Sharon, Conn. He now saw prospects of higher useful- 
ness opening before him, to the realization of which the advantages 
of a college education would be important. In the school of Dr. 
Backus he began his Latin grammar at the same time that he taught 


^ ^ f^ 


a class in English studies. After a delay, chiefly occasioned by want 
of means, he went, in the fall of 1816, to Andover, and fitted for col- 
lege in Phillip's Academy, under the care of John Adams, LL. D.,* 
father of Rev. William Adams, D. D., of New York. 

As an illustration of the early difficulties that young Peet manfully 
met and overcame in his pursuit of a liberal education, we mention 
that, at Andover, he earned a portion of his support by gardening in 
summer, and sawing wood in winter. 

Mr. Peet entered the time honored walls of Yale in 1818, and 
graduated in 1822, taking rank with the first ten in his class. He 
had made a public profession of faith in Christ some years before, 
and his original purpose was to devote himself to the work of the 
christian ministry, but an invitation to engage as an instructor of the 
deaf and dumb in the American Asylum at Hartford, gave him an 
opportunity of discovering his special fitness for this then new profes- 
sion. Thus began that career which has proved so honorable to 
himself, and so beneficial to that afflicted portion of the human family 
m whose service his life has been spent. 

The early success and reputation of the American Asylum, which 
made it. thirty yeare ago, in popular estimation, the model institution 
of its kind, was mainly due to the careful and felicitous choice of its 
early teachers. Mr. Peet's associates at Hartford were all able and 
most of them distinguished men. When w^e find that, among such 
teachers as his seniors in the profession, Thomas H. Gallaudet, Laurent 
Clerc, WiUiam C. Woodbridge, Lewis Weld, and William W. Turner, 
Mr. Peet was early distinguished in all the qualifications of an efficient 
teacher of the deaf and dumb, we are prepared for the subsequent 
eminence he attained. Within two years after he joined the Asylum, 
he was selected as its steward, an office giving him the sole control of 
the household department, and of the pupils out of school hours. 
The duties of this post were superadded to those of the daily instruc- 
tion of a class, either alone sufficient to occupy the energies of an 
ordinary man. Shortly before assuming the duties of steward, he 
had married his first wife. Miss Margaret Maria Lewis, daughter of 
Rev. Isaac Lewis, D. D., an estimable, accomplished and pious woman, 
who proved in every sense a helpmeet for him. 

In the year 1830, the Directors of the New York Institution for 
the Deaf and Dumb, the second American school of its kind in priority 
of date, — which had been for years losing ground in public estimation, 
were awakened to the importance of placing their school on higher 
ground. Seeking for a man whose weight of character, acquaintance 

• This worthy man is still living at Jacksonville, 111., at the advanced age of 83. 


with the most successful methods of instruction and tried efficiency as 
a teacher and as an executive officer, would invite confidence in ad- 
vance, and justify it by the results ; who could introduce improved 
methods of instruction, in the school-rooms, and at the same time, 
order and efficiency in all departments of the institution, their atten- 
tion was fortunately directed to Mr. Peet, who, almost alone in his 
profession, had established a reputation for equal and eminent effi- 
ciency as a teacher and as the superintendent of an asylum. The 
offices of principal teacher and superintendent had been separated at 
the New York Institution, much to the disadvantage of the institution. 
The title of principal, uniting the two offices, was now tendered to, 
and accepted by Mr. Peet. He held likewise the office of secretary 
of the Board of Directors, till he became its president fourteen years 
later. The new head of the institution thus had immediate control 
of all departments of the establishment, with a seat in the Board of 
direction itself. While such an arrangement increases the labors and 
responsibilities of the principal, it also makes success more fully de- 
pendent on the qualities and personal exertions of that officer, and, 
where the man is equal to his task will secure higher results by secur- 
ing unity of will in all departments of the establishment. 

Mr. Peet, entering on his new duties in New. York, on the first 
of February, 1831, found, in the task before him, abundant need of 
all his energies and resources. Order and comfort in the household, 
discipline and diligence among the pupils, and interest and method in 
the school-room, had to take the place of confusion, negligence, 
frequent insubordination, and imperfect methods of instruction. The 
labors which Mr. Peet imposed upon himself at that period were 
multitudinous and herculean. He practically inculcated that all 
the inmates of the institution formed but one great family, and him- 
self as its head, taking with his wife and children his meals with 
the pupils, rose to ask in the \isible language of the deaf and dumb, 
a blessing, and return thanks at every meal. He ever gave prompt 
and paternal attention to the complaints and little petitions of his 
pupils, and devoted for the first few weeks, a large share of his person- 
al attention to inculcating and enforcing habits of order and neat- 
ness. He conducted, for the first year or two, without assistance, as 
he has ever since continued to do in his turn, the religious exercises 
with which the school is opened each morning and closed each 
evening. On Sundays, he delivered two religious lectures in signs, 
each prepared with as much care as many clergymen bestow on their 
sermons, and delivered with the impressive manner, lucid illustrations, 
and perspicuous pantomime for which he was so eminent. He gave 
his personal attention to the school-room arrangements of all the 


classes, and to preparing lessons for the younger classes. He kept the 
accounts and conducted the correspondence of the institution, and 
attended the meetings of its Directors. He planned numerous im- 
provements in the details of every department of the establishment, 
down to dividing the classes by screens, painting the floors, and 
marking the linen, — and superintended their execution. And in 
addition to all this amount of labor, enough to task the full energies 
of most men, he taught with his accustomed eminent ability a class 
during the regular school hours. 

Those who were then members of the institution still retain a vivid 
recollection of the wonderful powers of command which Mr. Peet dis- 
played over the male pupils, many of them stout young men, grown 
up wild before coming to school, habitually turbulent, and prejudiced 
in advance against the new principal. Equally vivid is their recollec- 
tion of the lucid and forcible manner, strongly in contrast with 
the style of the former teachers, in which he was wont to deliver 
in pantomime a religious lecture or a moral exliortation, or explain a 
scripture lesson. Where some other teachers were only understood 
by a particular effort of attention, the signs of Mr. Peet were so clear 
and impressive, even to those not much conversant with the language 
of the deaf and dumb, that they could have imagined themselves 
actual spectators of the events he related, and in his gestures, and the 
play of his features, traced all the thoughts and emotions of the actor. 

The following, preserved by one of his assistants, as the first 
Sabbath lecture delivered by Mr. Peet in the New York Institution, 
(February 6, 1831,) may serve as a specimen of the outlines or skel- 
etons of these lectures, which were written out on the large slates 
at one sid^of the room, fitted up as a temporary chapel;* the object 
of preparing and writing out these skeletons being in part to aid the 
lecturer, and in part to make the lecture an occasion of improvement 
for the whole school in written language, as well as in moral and 
religious knowledge. But no words would give an adequate idea of 
the spirit and power with which these written outlines were explained 
and illustrated in pantomime. What appeared on paper a mere 
skeleton, under the hand of the teacher started to life, and swelled 
out in full, natural and graceful proportions. 

"Matthew, 19 : 14. But Jesus said, suffer little children to come 
unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven." 

" The kingdom of heaven is that kingdom of which Christ is king. 
All belong to it, whether in heaven or on earth, who love and obey him. 

* There was no room fitted up as a chapel in the New York Institution till Mr. Peet took 
eharije of it. 


All these enjoy liiH'prodont fiivor, and they will enjoy ctornul glory 
with him. 

'I'iiiM \» IJk! kiML;'<l<nri lo which chiidr 'i who Hock the IdcHwingM of 
ChriHt Ixilong. 

They Ixflong to it hccuiiHo tlmy uro nnit<!(l to it. 

Imt, in IJM'it' fcclingK, lM, in their HCMviccs, 3(i, in their enjoymontHi 
4th, in tlHtir j»roH))(!(;tH." 


" 1. Children who indnlge in wicked leeiingn do not belong to the 
kingdom of heaven. 

2. (Jhildrcn Hhonld ho kind and uih'etionule to otherH, and try 
to lead their eompanionw to ('hriMt. 

3. Children nhould not seek their happineHn in tluH world, for they 
can not obtain it. 

4. They who ar<i lunnblo and pioiw will go to heaven when thoy 
die, and he haj)py fontver. 

6. If you ar<! impenitent, and do not bv.c.k the favor of Chrint, you 
can not be admitted into heaven." 

In delivering a lecture like tlm above, to n congregation of de;if 
inutoH, for most of whom, nigi.H are far more clear and imj)resMiv(5 than 
words, and inuiiy of whom are in ho rude a state of ignorance 
that lh(^y havo never diHtinctly contcMnplated many of the iihs'w 
which neem simple and elementary to thoscj who hear and Kpeak, it in 
n(!c,esHary for the teacher, at almost every word on liis slate, to go back 
to the Himj»l(!Hl, <'lements of thought, to define, analyze and illuHtr/ito; 
to adduce familiar examphjH, and prefer always the conende to the 
abstract. In this art of adapting his exjdanations and illustrations to 
the compnOiension of intellects jim y(!t very imperfectly developed, as 
in other branch<'s of his profession, Mr. Peet was eminent. 

The effect of Mr. Poi't's labors was soon evinced in a nnirked 
improvement in every departnient of the institution, which, from that 
day to this, has been steadily gaining in reputation and usefulness. 
In the domestic; <le[»artment, he was well seconded by his excellent 
wife, and by her devoted friend, Miss Martha Dudley. In the do- 
partnjerit of instruction, ho liad the able ossistance of Mr. Leon 
Vaysse, who had been invited a few months j)revioUhly from the 
institution of Paris, to which ho returned three or four years laKM.* 
With this exception, Mr. Pect liad for »omo time, to labor alone. 
The old teachers left within a year or two, and the selection of new 
ones was a ditlicult task, for it is not every clever and well educated 

* Mr. Vnyma It Mnlor proftator snd iM-^oio, neond Director, (vloo-prlnelpal,)orth« InttW 

tutlon of I'arii. 


Toun^ man who \n found, on triul, to pf^wcM tho mental an<l pliyKicnl 
adaptation, naconHnry to hmiaam in tluj inntruction of tho d^jaf and 
diinih. Hut in wnV'iu^ th« Hohjction, Mr. I'eot diH[>layr'd liin accuH- 
toiri<?d tact, and m<jt with hi« wont<;d wucccwi. Within a f«w y*;ar>i, 
tho ifiHtitution could hoant of a corpn of Usaeharn hardly to \t<i rivaled 
for //!al, tal<;nt, and special adaptation to th'^ir pr/,f<r«» ion l.i' tlM,.«' of 
any »irnilar iuMtitution in tho world. 

In proportion m Mr. Vtmi mcxn'Ctlnd in training up uu < ; 
cor[>« of tcachcrn, lii^ laliorn were lightened. Kach tejicher, 
acquired nufHcient «kill and'rcadinew in pantomime, condueted tho 
r<digiouH (txarcAmm in turn, and took rliargo of the pupiU out of 
school in turn. And after the firnt three or four y<?ar«, the prinrripal 
wan relieved from teaching a ehwH pernonally, to enable him to wuper- 
hit/;nd more at ea«e the general c^jurne of inntruction, and the grjner- 
al afl'airn of the institution. At a much lat<5r day, howev<tr, he volun- 
tarily aiwumcd the in«truction of the highest clawi for §evwa\ tennHf in 
a t^;mpr>rary ncareity of experienced t<;a<;her», 

Mr. JVet wa>» i^oon called to cxi>crienco ft boroftvemont of ih§ 
beavie«t kind. Iii»» amiahle, int^dligent and a^'.<x/mpli»hed wife, for 
«even years, had added Uj the eare» of a young family, the duties of 
matron at the American Asylum, and on removing to New York, 
continued V) devote herself to the general oversight of the female 
j)upils,and of the domestic departfnent, though reliev<!d hy her friend, 
Miss Dudley, of mwtU of the actual laU^r. There is reason to fear 
that her warm sympathy with the efforts of her husband to elevate, in 
cvary hnUMi^ the institution with whose int^irests and mcAvtm ho had 
identified himself, led to greater excrtionn in her own department than 
her feeble frame could support. A c^^nstitutional Unuhiuny to con- 
sumption became develo[X{d in the year following their removal to 
New York, and «oon fl«sume^l that chnracUtr of beautiful yet ho\Hikt§ 
decline, m familiar to thousanrls whoM deareti connections hav« 
traveled this gentle declivity to the grAve* B^rooved t/> her na^ 
tive air, in the vain hope o( relief, she died at JUrtford, oo the 
23d of Hept/^mW, 1832, leaving three little wms, — an infant daugh- 
ter having Uum taken to heaven before her. Tlir^e who wat^^hed by 
Jier death-lx}d, remernl^er with de^^p and »^>lemn int^srest, that in th« 
last nvyment« of lift', after the j>ower of speech ha<l faih-d, the dying 
one was able to spell distinctly the word motiiicr with her weak, 
(imsui\{iU-A fingers, Did she mean V> recall to ber weeping »itt«r b«r 
promise to Ijc a mothr U) the babe left motherle«i ; at to convey thai 
tho saint/^ »pirit of her own xtnA\uir^ who bad depart/^d six yatin 
U'fore ber, in the triumpU ot faith, Wfl» bovering to welcome \m 


on the confines of the spirit land ? In the words of Lydia Huntly 
Sigourney, whose little poem " The Last Word of the Dying " com- 
memorates this touching incident : 

"We toil to break the seal with fruitless pain, 
Time's fellowship is riven, earth's question is in vain. 

But in view of this and other instances in which dying persons 
have been able to make intelligible communications by the aid of the 
manual alphabet, after the power of speech has failed, we would sug- 
gest that a familiarity with that alphabet may be of priceless value 
in many exigences easy to be conceived, but impossble to predict. 

Three years after, Mr. Peet formed a second connection, by marriage, 
with Miss Sarah Ann Smith, daughter of Matson Smith, M. D., whose 
wife was a lineal descendant of the first Mather's of New England. 

As soon as the success of the institution, under its new head, had 
become such as to invite public confidence, successful application was 
made to the legislature of the state for an increase of pupils and ap- 
propriations; and there was at the same time an increase of those 
pupils from families of better circumstances, who are attracted by the 
reputation of a school. The New York Institution became, within a 
few years, the largest on this side of the Atlantic; and, gaining slowly 
but surely, during a quarter of a century, in the confidence of the 
public and of the legislature, it has recently overtaken even the insti- 
tution of London, long the largest in the world. 

Mr. Peet did not confine himself to exhibitinjr such marked results 
in his school as should challenge investigation and inspire confidence. 
FeeHng it his duty to use every means to secure the opportunity of a 
good education to all the deaf and dumb children of the state, he la- 
bored, by his annual reports and other publications, to diffuse correct 
information, and keep alive an interest in the cause of these unfor- 
tunate children. Almost every year he visited Albany, to urge the 
claims of his institution on the legislature ; and on such occasions, 
his tact and knowledge of the world, not less than his distinguished 
reputation, gave him mtich personal influence among the members of 
the legislature. It was customary, when an application on the part 
of the deaf and dumb was before the house, to exhibit the attain- 
ments of a few of the pupils by special invitation, in the legislative 
hall itself; a scene always of great interest to the members, and 
which never failed to convince the most incredulous of the benefits of 
instructing the deaf and dumb. On one occasion, in order to awaken 
in remote parts of the state an interest which might (and did) result 
in sending to school several promising deaf-mutes, hitherto kept in 
heathen ignorance by the apathy or want of information of their 


friends, Mr. Peet traveled with a deputation of his teachers and pu- 
pils from the Hudson river to Buffalo, and Niagara, holding exhibi- 
tions at the principal places on the route. A lively and graphic re- 
port of this tour is annexed to the twenty-sixth Annual Report of the 
institution, from which we make an extract, bearing on a question 
that has been raised by some, as to the propriety of public exhibitions 
of the pupils of such an institution. 

" From the above brief sketch, it will be seen that we held exhibi- 
tions in seventeen of the principal cities and villages west of Albany, 
in five places repeating our exhibitions at the urgent request of the 
citizens. The audiences assembled were estimated at from two hun- 
dred to two thousand. Probably in all from ten to fifteen thousand 
persons, many of them among the best educated and influential 
citizens of the state, have had the opportunity, through this excur- 
sion, of acquiring correct notions on the subject of the instruction of 
the deaf and dumb, and of witnessing, many of them for the first 
time, practical illustrations of the success attained under our system. 

Many thousands besides, who could not personally attend, have 
had their attention awakened to the subject, and have acquired some 
degree of correct information, through the notices of our exhibitions 
published in the papers of the various places we visited. We have 
reason to believe that the results have been highly beneficial, and that 
the large accession of promising pupils to the institution, within a few 
weeks after our tour, is, in part attributable to the interest and atten- 
tion which we were the means of awakening. 

The obstacles which the friends of deaf-mute education have to 
encounter, are, partly, the prejudices of many, formed from occasional 
instances of partial failure in instructing deaf-mutes under unfavora- 
ble circumstances, partly the incredulity of others, who refuse to be- 
lieve, upon report, facts as contrary to their own previous experience 
as is the congelation of water, or the lengthened day and night of po- 
lar regions to that of an inhabitant of the equator ; and partly, the 
indifference with which the great bulk of mankind regard mattei-s 
which no peculiar circumstances have pressed upon their pei-sonal no- 

There are thousands who regard the deaf and dumb with some 
degree of compassion, and hear of the efforts made in their behalf 
with cold approbation, but the subject has never taken hold of their 
feelings. They hear of deaf-mute children in the families of their ac-» 
quaintances, perhaps they meet them ; they advise their being sent 
to the institution ; but the advice is too coldly given to turn the 
scale, when, as is too often the case, there exists disinclination on the 


part of tlie parent or guardian. If we could infuse, into the mass of 
our benevolent and educated men, a more heartfelt interest in this 
subject, — if we could prompt each to warmer and more earnest efforts 
in those cases that may come to his knowledge, — if finally, the pastor 
or magistrate, or professional man, in whose neighborhood there may 
be a deaf-mute growing up in ignorance, and in danger of being left 
for life without the pale of social communion, and of christian knowl- 
edge, could be fully impressed with the momentous consequences at 
stake, and fully apprised of the only and easy means of escape, then 
we should have less cause to complain that parents and guardians, of- 
ten uneducated themselves, take too little thought for the education 
of their deaf and dumb children. 

In this point of view, we trust our excursion has, in many places, 
sown the seed which may hereafter spring up and ripen to a gladden- 
ing harvest. Many men, now wielding, or destined to wield an im- 
portant influence, attended our exhibitions. In two or three places 
the opportunities of this kind were peculiarly favorable. In Auburn, 
for instance, the students of the Theological Seminary were present 
at our lecture and exercises. These young men are destined to go 
forth into the various cities and towns of the state, to exert a high 
moral and intellectual influence, and ex-officio, to take the lead in 
benevolent undertakings. That this body of men should be correctly 
informed of the extent to which the instruction of the deaf and dumb 
is practicable ; that they should be warned against the blind enthusi- 
asm that, aiming at too much, fails of accomplishing the greatest 
practical good, and that their feelings should be interested in view of 
the striking intellectual, moral and religious contrast between the edu- 
cated and the uneducated deaf mute, is a great point gained, and can 
hardly be too highly appreciated." 

When Dr. Peet, (we find it easier to speak of him by that now 
familiar title, though the degree of LL. D., conferred on him by the 
regents of the university of New York, is of somewhat later date than 
the period we are now speaking of,) had been able to collect around 
him such a corps of well trained teachers that his daily attention to 
the routine of instruction was no longer required, he turned his atten- 
tion to the preparation of a course of instruction, or a series of lan- 
guage lessons, adapted to the peculiar circumstances of a class of 
deaf-mutes, — then a very serious want. Several attempts, under the 
spur of urgent necessity, had indeed been made to provide such les- 
sons ; and in two or three instances, they had been printed to save 
copying with a pen ; but these little books were of a character un- 
satisfactory even to their authors ; and, such as they were, copies were 


no longer to be procured in sufficient numbers for a school. Dr. 
Peet, therefore, finding nothing he could use, and little even to im- 
prove upon, beyond some hints in the French work of Bebian, and 
the manuscript lessons previously used in his own school, was obliged 
to go back to the first principles of the art; and following these to 
their logical results in the light of his long experience, and intimate 
acquaintance with the peculiarities of the deaf and dumb, he produced 
a course of lessons on a plan in many respects entirely new. The 
first fruit of his labors, after being tested for a few months in his own 
school, was published in the spring of 1844, with the title of, "A Vo- 
cabulary and Elementary Lessons for the Deaf and Dumb." It met, 
(says Dr. Peet in the preface to the second edition,) with " favor and 
success beyond the author's hopes," being received with a satisfaction 
amounting in some cases to enthusiasm. The first edition being ex- 
hausted much sooner than was anticipated, it was revised with great 
care, and under the title of " Elementary Lessons, being a course of 
instruction for the Deaf and Dumb, Part First," has gone through 
two or three editions, and is still the only text-book in general use 
for the younger classes in the American Institutions for the Deaf and 
Dumb. Orders have also been received for copies to be used in British 
schools ; and missionaries whose task, like that of the teacher of deaf- 
mutes, is to teach the first rudiments of the English language to in- 
tellects but imperfectly developed, have found Dr. Peet's Elementary 
Lessons a very suitable text-book for that purpose. 

The success of the First Part encouraged the author to proceed with 
his undertaking of supplying that total want of acceptable elementary 
books which had so seriously increased the labors of teachers of the 
deaf and dumb. A Second Part was published in 1845, a little 
volume of Scripture Lessons in 1846, the new edition of the First Part, 
already mentioned, the same year, and finally a new Second Part, by 
which the Second Part published in 1845 became the Third Part, ap- 
peared in 1849. A carefully revised edition of Dr. Peet's Scripture 
Lessons appeared in the latter year, and being equally well adapted 
to the use of children who hear, besides the edition for the use of the 
deaf and dumb, a large edition was put in general circulation by the 
American Tract Society. 

The " Course of Instruction," as far as prepared, thus consists of 
four volumes, of which the Elementary Lessons and the Scripture 
Lessons have been received with the most general approbation. Ex- 
perience has shown that the arrangement of the Second and Third 
Parts is susceptible of improvement, and if Dr. Peet's life and health 
are spared, it is understood that he has in view to ^e^^se both, and 



perhaps, to add a work, long the great desideratum in the instruction 
of the deaf and dumb, a Methodical Vocabulary, in two parts, the 
First Part embracing the words of our language, in an ideological or- 
der, so explained and illustrated, that the deaf-mute student once 
made familiar with the principle of classification, can find in it the 
word he needs to express a given idea; while the Second Part, in the 
customary alphabetical order, by means of simple definitions and illus- 
trations, by cuts where practicable, and by references to the First Part, 
shall more readily enable a deaf-mute to discover the meaning of .1 
word than he generally can by the definitions in our common English 
dictionaries. Such a work would render to a deaf-mute student the 
same aid both in reading and composing, that the English student 
finds in his double lexicons of Latin, or whatever other language he 
has in hand. For want of such a work, a deaf-mute, for whom the 
language of his countrymen is always a foreign language, the lan- 
guage of signs being his vernacular, can only obtain a word he needs 
to express a given idea by application to a living teacher ; and the 
definitions in our dictionaries are seldom well adapted to his use. 
But great as would be the advantages of such a work, the labor of 
preparing it would evidently be so great that the few who have at- 
tempted it have recoiled. And perhaps the advanced years of Dr. 
Peet, and his many other avocations may not permit him to under- 
take it. He is understood to be now employing his leisure upon a 
a School History of the United States, which, while its simplicity and 
perspicuity of style shall adapt it to the use of the deaf and dumb, 
will be equally well adapted for children who hear ; and in which 
it is proposed to take special care to secure accuracy of statement, as 
well as to preserve the interest by the choice of incidents. 

The limits of a sketch like this will not permit us to give, as we 
were tempted to do, an exposition of the plan of Dr. Peet's course 
of instruction. Such an exposition may be found in some able arti- 
cles contributed by him to the "American Annals of the Deaf and 
Dumb," a quarterly, published at Hartford.* We can here only ex- 
plain that the plan of the "Course" is founded on a principle of phi- 
losophical progress, beginning with the words and phrases that accu- 
rately express ideas already familiar to the pupil, on the great funda- 
mental principle that " ideas should precede names," and thence go- 
ing by gradual and skillfully arranged steps from the simple to the 
complex, from the concrete to the abstract ; so that, as far as practi- 
cable, only one difficulty shall be introduced at one time, and each 

* See in particular, Vol. III., p. 99, and on ; also Dr. Peet's article on the Course of In- 
struction, in the Proceedings of the Second Convention, etc , p. 39, and on. 


difficulty overcome shall serve as a stepping stone to the next. Cuts 
are, of course, used for exphiining words and phrases, wherever prac- 
ticable ; and the reading lessons are admirably simple in style and 
construction, yet attractive and piquant. 

Simple and obvious as these principles are, — in their practical ap- 
plication there is much room for divergence of opinion ; and even the 
first step can not be intelligently taken except by one who is familiar 
with the mental habits of the deaf and dumb, and knows that when 
they first come to the instructor, the current of their private thoughts 
is very different from that series of abstract and general propositions 
which prevail in the meditations of those who hear, — that they think 
by " direct intuition," — as though, in a sort of mental camera oh- 
scura, objects with their qualities and actions were continually passings 
Hence Dr. Peet begins with words and phrases correctly representing 
these mental images; at first single words, a book^ a horse, a bird ; 
then descriptive phrases, made more intelligible by contrast, as a 
black book, a white book, a large horse, a small bird. Numbers and 
the plural form are early introduced, and verbs first appear under the 
form of the participle, as a horse running, a bird flying, it being con- 
sidered that these phrases acccurately describe the pictures shown to 
the pupil, whereas no pictures will adequately represent the sentences, 
The horse runs ; The bird flies. Hence the finite verb is deferred 
till, by the development of his ideas during two or three months of 
instruction, and by some practice in appreciating the divisions of time, 
the pupil has become able to apprehend those ideas of assertion and 
time which constitute the essence of the verb. And at his first intro- 
duction to the verb, care is taken to make a distinction which, for 
want of such early care, we have known many educated mutes to go 
through life without being able to appreciate, the distinction between 
the actual present, " Mary is dancing," and the habitual present, 
"Mary dances sometimes." In this philosophical spirit the work is 
planned, and it is no small praise to say that the execution is worthy 
of the plan. 

In order to take all Dr. Peet's series of school books for the deaf 
and dumb in one view, we have anticipated the order of time. The 
institution was, by its charter, placed under the care and control of a 
Board of Directors, composed of twenty-five of the most respectable 
and intelligent citizens of New York, men whose judgment might aid 
the principal in the management of the institution, and whose social 
and political influence had much weight with the legislature in its 
behalf. The presidency of this board was successively filled by such 
men as DeWitt Clinton, Samuel L. Mitchell, LL. D., Rev. James Mil- 


iior, D.D., and Robert C. Cornell. On the death of the two last, which 
occurred within a few months of each other in the spring of 1845, the 
title of president was, by general consent, and as a just tribute to his 
eminent worth and services, conferred on Mr. Peet; the first, and we 
believe the only case in which the principal or superintendent of such 
an institution is also president of its Board of Directors or Trustees. 
(The degree of Doctor of Laws, (LL. D.,) was conferred on Mr. Peet, 
as we have said, by the regents of the university, three or four years 
later.) This change of title brought no change in the immediate 
relations of Dr. Peet to the institution. He continued, as he has 
ever done, to reside in the building, to fulfill the duties both of the 
head of the institution, and the head of the family; and to give his 
personal attention and the benefit of his great experience in all cases 
of difficulty in any department of the establishment. 

It was, we think, early in the year, 1844, that the Hon. Horace 
Mann, returning from a visit of inspection to the educational institu- 
tions of Europe, especially of Germany, published his report, in which 
he took occasion to say that, in his opinion the " Institutions for the 
Deaf and Dumb in Prussia, Saxony, and Holland, are decidedly 
superior to any in this country." On examination, it appeared that 
the distinguished author of this report, who, with all his eminent zeal 
for the cause of education, and admitted ability, was too apt to jump to 
conclusions upon insufficient premises, had formed this opinion upon 
a very superficial examination of the German schools, and no examina- 
tion at all of our own. Still the specific point of difference on which 
his opinion was based, that the German teachers teach, or attempt to 
teach their deaf pupils to speak, while ours had long since formally 
relinquished that attempt, was prima facie such as to make an 
impression on the public mind, ever moved by novelties, and prone to 
believe in the marvelous. Though, therefore, all the evidence we then 
had went to show that even in the German language, much more 
favorable to such an attempt than our own, the teaching or articula- 
tion to the deaf and dumb seldom yielded any results of real practical 
value, while it certainly involved a heavy waste of time and labor, — 
still it seemed proper to ascertain by actual examination whether we 
were in fact so far behind the German or other European schools, that, 
if there were valuable lessons to be learned, we might learn them, and 
if not, that our institutions, might retain in the public estimation the 
place they had so hardly won. To this end, each of the two oldest 
and largest American Institutions for the deaf and dumb, sent an 
agent to Europe. The American Asylum, sent its late esteemed prin- 
cipal, Mr. Weld, and the New York Institution, sent one of its former 


instructors, Rev. George E. Day, now a professor in the Lane Theolog- 
ical Seminary, Ohio. The reports of tliese gentlemen made after 
very full and candid examination, were justly held to be conclusive 
that, on the whole, the results of our system of instruction were supe- 
rior to those obtained in the German schools. Mr. Feet's letter of 
instruction to Mr. Day, prefixed to the report of the latter, (see Twenty- 
Sixth Annual Report of the New York Institution,) is esteemed a 
model paper of its kind, and shows how fully and clearly its author 
understood, in advance, all the bearings of the question at issue. 
Seven years later, (in the spring of 1851,) Dr. Peet himself, with his 
eldest son and three of his pupils, visited Europe on a similar errand ; 
and made a v^oluminous report on the condition of the European 
schools he visited, and on the various systems of instruction he found 
in use, which is one of the most valuable and interesting documents 
of the kind extant, and at the same time, a graphic and agreeable 
book of travels. While in London, on this occasion, he took part in 
the first annual convention of British teachers of the deaf and dumb. 

The first convention of American Instructors of the Deaf and Dumb, 
had been held at the New York Institution, a year before this time, 
(in 1850,) and Dr. Peet, returned from Europe just in time to attend 
the second convention, held at Hartford, in August, 1851. T-vvo other 
conventions have been held since, (the interval having been changed 
from one to two years, and two meetings postponed a year, from un- 
favorable and unforeseen circumstances.) At all these conventions, 
Dr. Peet, to whose exertions and influence the holding of the first 
convention was mainly due, took a leading part. Besides, in the dis- 
cussions that arose, freely imparting the benefit of his rare experience 
to his younger brethren, papers of great value, and prepared with 
much labor and research, were presented by him at each convention, 
and published with its proceedings. Of these papers, we will particu- 
larize that on the " Origin and Early History of the Art of Instruct- 
ing the Deaf and Dumb," presented at the first convention, and also 
inserted in the American Annals, (III., 129 and on,) and the "Report 
on the Legal Rights and Liabilities of the Deaf and Dumb," presented 
at the fourth convention, whose proceedings are not yet published, but 
an imperfect copy of this paper appeared in the Amencan Journal of 
Insanity, last summer. The former of these papers corrects several 
errors of Degerando, hitherto almost the only authority usually refer- 
red to on that subject ; and the latter has been pronounced by com- 
petent judges a valuable contribution to our legal literature, and sup- 
plies information which hitherto could be obtained only by very exten- 
sive and laborious research. 


We will close our account of Dr. Peet's contrroutioiis to the litera- 
ture of deaf-mute instruction, by noticing three or four other remark- 
able productions; the address at the dedication of the chapel of the 
Kew York Institution, (December 1846,) that delivered on the occa- 
sion of laying the corner-stone of the North Carolina Institution, 
(April, 1848,) the "Report on the Education of the Deaf and Dumb 
in the Higher Branches of Learning," (1852,) which led to the estab- 
lishment of the High Class in the Ne\v York Institution, a measure 
that has contributed essentially to elevate the general standard of 
deaf-mute education ;* and the curious article on the " Notions of the 
Deaf and Dumb before Instruction, especially on Religious Subjects," 
which appeared in the Bibliotheca Sacra for July, 1855. In the last 
mentioned article, it is shown that, whatever may be the ability of the 
liuman intellect in a high stage of development, to arrive at just and 
ennobling conceptions of a Creator and supreme governor of the 
world, the uneducated deaf and dumb have, in no clearly attested 
instances, originated, from their own reflections, the idea of God, or of 
a Creator. 

Space is wanting for a more particular notice of these and other 
papers, nor can we here enumerate the topics treated of in the Annual 
Reports of the New York Institution, which, unlike the generality of 
such reports, instead of being confined to details of local or temporary 
interest, — discuss with Dr. Peet's characteristic ability, fullness of 
information, and comprehensiveness of examination, the most import- 
ant topics connected directly or indirectly, with the subject of deaf- 
mute instruction. The Thirty-Fifth Report, for instance, embraces the 
fullest and besi digested body of statistics of the deaf and dumb which 
has been yet published. 

Dr. Peet has been fortunate in his children. He has the able assist- 
ance of his two elder sons, accomplished teachers of the deaf and 
dumb, in his own institution. The eldest, as teacher of the High Class, 
lias had the satisfaction of training up the best educated class of deaf- 
mutes taken as a class, that ever graduated. 

Dr. Peet has now nearly reached the accomplishment of his last 
great labor, the planning and erection of buildings that will make the 
New York Institution, in that respect, as we believe it to be in all 
others, a model institution of its kind. In this, and in his other labors 
for the benefit of the deaf and dumb, he has been ably seconded by 
an intellio^ent and enerijetic Board of Directors. From the mode of 

*lt is due to General P. M. Wetmore, recently vice-president of the in.'titution, to 
say that, in the establishment of the High Class, as in other measures for the benefit of the 
fteaf and dumb, he rendered very valuable aid, and merits the lasting gratitude of the deaf and 
dumb of New York. 


election, by a few life members and subscribers, and the gratuitous 
nature of their services, the Directors of the New York Institution are 
solely men attracted together by benevolent interest in the cause of 
the deaf and dumb, and respect for, and sympathy with the character 
of the president. Hence it is that they have been so ready to appre- 
ciate, encourage and aid his labors. In this matter of the erection of 
the new buildings, especially, it required zeal, foresight, and sanguine 
trust in the future, to prevent that perfection of plan and proportions 
so admirable in the new buildings from being sacrificed to a severe, 
though temporary pecuniary pressure.* Of those features that have 
been more particularly the object of Dr. Peet's personal attention and 
solicitude, we may specify the arrangements and apparatus for warm- 
ing and ventilation. 

From this sketch of Dr. Peet's public life, his character as a chris- 
tian gentleman, as the head of an institution, as a teacher, as an 
accomplished master of the language of pantomime, as a leader and 
energetic laborer in all movements for the benefit of the common 
cause of deaf-mute education, — and as the author of the best existing 
series of works in our language, perhaps in any language, on the 
instruction of the deaf and dumb, — though inadequately set forth, 
will, we trust, be apparent to the reader. But to his many friends, 
and to the hundreds of deaf-mutes who, educated under his care, have 
learned to love and honor him as a father, such a portraiture will 
appear not only feeble, but very incomplete, as omitting one of Dr. 
Peet's most prominent traits of character, — his warm benevolence of 
heart, — of which the best illustration is the filial affection with which 
he is regarded by his pupils, the warm and active interest he has ever 
taken in their temporal and spiritual welfare, and the aid he has ever 
been ready to give to any of his former pupils who deserved and stood 
in need of his assistance. When dismissing his pupils at the end of 
their course, he is wont to give each a little letter of advice, in which, 
encouraging them to seek his aid in any future season of trouble, he 
says, " Come to us, I repeat, with the confidence of children to a father. 
We shall be ever ready to redress your wrongs, to seek for you employ- 
ment that shall ensure for you comfort and respectability ; and in 
those afflictions which only time and Providence can relieve, to afford 
the sympathy and advice that may inspire consolation, patience, and 
cheerfulness." And the instances are not few in which this pledge 
has been fulfilled. 

*The result of the pecuniary difficulties referred to, has been that the State of New YorK, 
hasformally assumed the proprietorship of the institution, maintaining it as it is. It has thus 
become in name, as it long has been dc facto, a State Institution. 


Compearing the present state of the institution with what it was in 
1830, then a small and inferior school, ill provided with teachers, 
without any good plan of instruction, or acceptable series of lessons ; 
now in the very foremost rank of special educational institutions, 
furnishing text-books and teachers to other schools, and looked to as 
a model, both in its system of instruction and the plan of its buildings, 
by its results and publications elevating the standard of deaf-mute 
instruction, and spreading abroad an interest that leads to the found- 
ing of new institutions, Dr. Peet may well feel that the earnest and 
unfaltering labor of twenty-six years has not been in vain. He has 
not, we trust, nearly reached the term of his active usefulness. Though 
crowned with the glory of grey hairs, judging from his erect form, 
active step, and unabated powers of attention to the duties of his ardu- 
ous post, — the deaf and dumb of New York, and of the whole Union 
may, for years to come, benefit by his labors. And when the time 
shall come for retirement from active labor, he will known that the 
blessings of hundreds follow him down the vale of years, and that the 
future of the institution to which his life has been devoted, — with its 
great trust for the benefit of the deaf and dumb of generations to come, 
may safely be left in the care of the teachers he has trained up. 


ivedb.-j.c.B.j±lre axuressl^ for S&eside Lect^^^' 

©©(nir. wv^ An^n^eoTTTT 


William A. Alcott, one of the pioneers in the reformation of 
common schools in New England, and an indefatigable laborer by 
pen and voice in the cause of popular education, especially in physi- 
ology and hygiene, was born in Wolcott, Connecticut, on the 6th of 
August, 1798. His father was a hard working farmer, in moderate 
circumstances, in a poor farming town ; and his mother a woman of 
intelligence and practical good sense, having been a teacher in early 
life. She inspired her son with a love of personal improvement, and 
a desire to serve others. His opportunities for instruction were con- 
fined to the " District School as it was," for three or four months in 
the summer, and four months in the winter, until he was eight years 
old ; and during the winter term for four or five years afterward. The 
staple of a common school education was spelling, reading and writing. 
Arithmetic was not taught except to the older boys in the evening, 
and a little geography, gathered from reading Nathaniel D wight's 
"Questions and Answers." Young Alcott, however, enjoyed the 
privilege of home instruction in the rudiments of arithmetic ; and at 
school, of being employed as monitor, and also of being called on to 
give assistance to his schoolmates out of school hours. But in addi- 
tion to these opportunities, he attended a school kept by the minister 
of the parish for six months, where he acquired a little knowledge of 
grammar, geography and composition ; and where too he enjoyed 
the still greater advantage of learning by teaching others ; thus 
making his knowledge more accurate, and confirming at the same 
time the habit of doing good to others, — which finally became the 
master passion and habit of his life. He was not fond of the boyish 
sports and exercises of those days, — eschewing angling and trapping 
as cruel, and preferring books and conversation at home, to wrestling, 
ball playing and jumping. 

But books were exceedingly scarce. The catalogue of many a 
family library in his native neighborhood would at this day be a lit- 
erary curiosity. His father's, which was far from being the most 
meager, consisted mainly of the Bible, the Book of Knowledge, 
Cynthia, Francis Spira, George Buchanan the King's Jester, and John 
R. Jewett's adventures among the Indians. 


His motber, however, who had seen a better class of books, was ac- 
customed, while he was employed, during the long winter evenings, 
in paring apples, knitting and other domestic occupations, to relate to 
him their contents ; in some instances giving a very full account of a 
valuable book. His unbounded thirst to know, she thus in some 
measure kept alive for future better opportunities. 

When he had read many times over the books already mentioned, 
he began to borrow of the neighbors. Whatever could be obtained 
for several miles round, he eagerly devoured, without much discrim- 
ination. It happened, however, that most of the books he borrowed 
were negatively good, and some of them excellent. Such books as 
The Saracen, Pamela, Sir Charles Grandison, Clarissa Harlow, 
Stephen Burroughs, Paul and Virginia, and Robinson Crusoe, were 
among the worst; while Stiles' Judges of Charles I., Life of 
Franklin, Murray's Power of Religion on the Mind, Pope's Essay on 
Man, Milton's Paradise Lost, Young's Night Thoughts, Gesner's Death 
of Abel, Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, Vicar of Wakefield, and Burgh's 
Dignity of Human Nature, especially the last, had a better influence 
upon him. Chance also threw in his way a work on electricity, Blair's 
Moral Philosophy, and Trumbull's History of Indian Wars, of which 
his hungry and thirsty mind made the most. 

There were indeed the fragments of an old library in the place, but 
many years elapsed before he could get access to it ; and when, at the 
age of fourteen, he obtained a right to it, he found fewer books con- 
genial to his taste than he had expected. Doddridge's Rise and 
Progress, Fuller's Gospel its own witness, Neal's History of the Puri- 
tans, Trumbull's History of Connecticut, The Life of Mohammed, Jo- 
seph us' History of the Jews, and Rollins' Ancient History, were 
among the best ; and some of them exerted a most marked and decided 
influence upon his character. 

He read slowly, and frequently with pen in hand ; and some of his 
notes, still in existence, form considerable volumes. Rare books, 
which he borrowed, he sometimes copied entire. Still, he generally 
read for amusement. The idea of self-education and self-advancement 
had as yet dawned but indistinctly on his mind ; although he was uncon- 
sciously, but therefore the more surely, educating himself. From one 
book, however, — Rollins' History, — he extracted something beyond 
amusement. All the leisure time he could find, amid five months of 
active farm larbor, was devoted to the careful perusal of this work ; 
and he seems never to have forgotten it. 

At this early period he became fond of versifying ; an occupation of 
uncertain value. Some of his friends, from weakness or thoughtlessness, 


encouraged it. But ho did not long waste his time in this way; 
he gradually substituted for it the more valuable habit of letter writing. 

As yet there had been no post-ofRce in his native town, and 
therefore little communication with the surrounding world. In a popu- 
lation of nearly two hundred families, not twenty, perhaps not a dozen, 
had ever so much as taken a newspaper of any kind. By saving his 
spending money from time to time, he was at length able for one 
quarter, — perhaps for a whole half year, — in company with a young 
friend, to take a weekly newspaper. 

In this state of things he attempted to form a juvenile library. A 
constitution and set of by-laws were prepared with much wisdom ; 
and he was made the librarian. Of seven youths, mostly about 
fourteen or fifteen years of age, who signed the constitution, only three 
ever paid the first installment. There was no parental encouragement, 
even in good words. A small volume entitled Cotemporary Biogra- 
phy, was purchased with the fifty cents which had been raised, and 
thoroughly read, after which they all sold out their rights to the 
librarian ; and thus ended this first attempt at educational improvement. 

The habit of epistolary correspondence became almost a pastime 
with him, as it still is. A regular and frequent and sometimes profita- 
ble correspondence with one young friend was begun as early as the 
age of twelve years, and continued for twenty years or more ; and had 
no little influence in the formation of his general character. 

Ilis great aim all this while was to be a printer. Various other 
employments had indeed been mentioned by his friends. One aged 
grandmother, with whom he was a favorite, preferred to have him 
educated to be a minister. Another as strenuously maintained that 
he ought to be a physician. His own parents said nothing ; partly 
doubtless, from modesty, and partly from poverty. 

The young man himself could see no way of ever becoming a 
printer ; yet his attachment to the employment was so strong that he 
could not willingly give up the idea of one day reaching it. He con- 
tinued to labor indeed, with great faithfulness, (though he was some- 
times a little absent minded,) because he believed it to be his duty. 
The idea of becoming a teacher or an author was far from his thoughts. 

He was little more than eighteen years of age, when application 
was made to his father to permit his son to keep the school in his 
native district. The school house stood but a few rods from his 
father's dwelling, and six hours in school would leave him several 
hours for labor ; besides the sum of ten dollars a month, even though 
he furnished his own board, looked very tempting. He at length 
consented to take the school for three months. 


His success this winter was limited in two ways. 1. His discipline 
was harsh and severe ; not so much from natural inclination, as he 
was by nature mild and forbearing, but in the belief that sternness 
and a kind of martial discipline were indispensable. 2. His heart was 
too much divided between his labor in the school and that for his 
father, which consumed nearly every moment out of school, not occu- 
pied in sleep. Nevertheless, he had some merit as a teacher, and his 
reputation went abroad. 

For six successive winters, with the single interruption of one year, 
(when he went South to teach,) he continued to be employed in 
different parts of Hartford and Litchfield counties, with a gradually 
increasing compensation. By a few he was valued, because they 
thought him a smart master, who would make the pupils know their 
places ; by others, for his reputation as a scholar ; and by others still, 
because he was valued highly by the children. It was in those days 
very much, in essence, as it is now : parents would not visit the 
schools where their children were if they could help it ; and what 
they knew about the school they had to take at second hand. 

Two things he certainly did as a teacher ; he labored incessantly, 
both "in season and out of season." No man was ever more punc- 
tual or more fiuthful to his employers. And then he governed his 
school with that sort of martial law which secured a silence, that in- 
the common schools of his native region had been little known. This 
procured for him one species of reputation that extended far and wide, 
so that his services were by a particular class much sought for. It 
was his boast, as it was that of part of his friends and pupils, that at 
almost any moment during school hours — such was the stillness — 
a pin falling to the floor might be beard distinctly. But it was a 
silence which was obtained at a very great — almost too great — 

The following anecdote will serve as an illustration of the point. 
One of his pupils was to be punished with the rod. Great preparation 
was made, and the scholars in general were " put in fear," as was the 
teacher's intention. 

The flagellation, though not remarkably severe, was performed 
with a stick somewhat brittle at the end, a piece of which broke ofl', 
and struck the cheek of another boy, and raised a little blood. I'he 
pupils carried home the report. Some weeks afterward, the teacher 
was surprised to learn that a complaint had been entered against him 
to the grand jury of the town, by the guardians of the boy whose 
cheek had been hurt, and that he was in danger of a prosecution. 
The complaint, however, was taken very little notice of, and the aftair 


died away. Good order had been secured in school, and all appeared 
to be going on well ; and it was probably deemed unwise to interfere. 
The whole affair, howeveu, was known abroad, and somewhat injured 

His popularity was also diminished by the stand he took against 
public exhibitions, or quarter days as they were called. For though 
almost everybody spoke well of the change, and preferred, as they 
said, the new custom of keeping the door always open to visitors, for 
every day of the week, yet it was easy to see that the plan was re- 
garded as an innovation upon ancient usages. Nobody visited the 
school now ; and the teacher and his pupils were entirely alone, at 
least nineteen days out of twenty, the whole term. 

During the last of these six years of teaching, which was 1821, he 
had been made an executive officer of his native town, and he en- 
deavored to fulfill the trust reposed in him. But as his school was 
four or five miles from his field of civil activity, the two kinds of labor 
did not very well harmonize, and the school sometimes suffered. He 
had hence been obliged to discontinue his school on a certain occa- 
sion, in order to commit to the county prison a common debtor. 
Anxious to be at his school on the morning of the second day, ac- 
cording to expectation, he traveled in the extreme cold of a January 
night till nearly morning, and scarcely closed his eyes in sleep during 
the whole time. The next morning he was in school at the precise 
hour of nine o'clock ; though in order to effect this he had fatigued 
himself still farther by a long and rapid walk that morning. They 
who have had a similar experience will not be surprised when they 
are told that with initated brain and nerves the school appeared to 
him more like a bedlam than any thing else. Disappointed in his 
attempts to secure the wonted silence, he was about to execute ven- 
geance on some of those whom he regarded as the ringleaders, when 
lo! the injunction of Salzmann, the German educator, to look for the 
cause internally^ came to his mind. In himself — his care, fatigue and 
sleeplessness— he sought for the cause, and in himself he found it! 

With all his errors, he was preeminently successful as a teacher ; 
and had been very greatly attached to his employment. He had 
even begun to cherish the hope of being able one day to teach per- 
manently. And yet there were serious difficulties in the way. His 
scanty wages, twelve dollars a month, had chiefly gone to aid in the 
support of his father's family, and he was unable to study his profess- 
ion, had there been opportunity, for want of the needful funds. Then, 
too, there was little encouragement to do so, had he possessed the 
means ; since male teachers were seldom employed except for four or 


five months of the winter. Indeed it was not usual to continue the 
schools for more than seven or eight months in the year. 

In the spring of 1822, after he had closed his sixth annual winter 
term of teaching, and at the end of a long search, he found means to 
obtain a school for one year. It was a new thing in the place, but 
relying on his fame as a teacher, which had long since reached them, 
and anxious to obtain his services in the best way they could, and at 
such time as they could, it was agreed to employ him for the time 
above-mentioned, including a vacation of one month, at nine dollars 
a month, or ninety-nine dollars a year and his board. Hitherto, 
for some time, he had received twelve dollars a month, but here was 
steady employment. A liberal individual volunteered to add one 
dollar from his own purse, to make up the sum to $100, upon which 
the ofier was acceded to, and he began his school early in May. He 
was now nearly twenty-four years of age. lie boarded in the families 
of his employers, as was the custom of the times. This year, however, 
ho was to traverse the district twice ; that is, every six months. As 
the school was very large, made up from some thirty families or more, his 
course might have well deserved the usual term of opprobrium, — 
"begging his bread from door to door." 

But this boarding in the families, to a person .of a missionary 
spirit, has its advantages ; and Dr. Alcott endeavored to make the 
most of it. He soon became, what he had for some time been verging 
toward, a missionary of education. He spent most of his time while 
in these families, not in reading, of which, however, he was becoming 
more and more fond, but in instructing tlie children by conversa- 
tion and anecdotes, and incidentally, both directly and indirectly, the 
parents. His whole heart was in his school, and he endeavored to 
have theirs strongly turned in the same direction. Ho threw open 
his doors and solicited their daily visits. He urged the necessity of 
reform in many particulars, which, in that district and indeed all over 
that region, had been till now chiefly overlooked. 

One of the first things that he pressed upon the attention of his 
employers was an improvement cf the condition of the school room. 
Hitherto, for the most part, in Connecticut at least, the seats for the 
smaller pupils had consisted of a mere plank or slab, usually too high. 
He did not believe in the usefulness or necessity of suspending any 
but the most guilty and abandoned between the earth and the heav- 
ens. But the proposal to build a few seats with backs was stared at, 
and by some ridiculed. However, persevering appeals to mothers on 
the dangerous consequences of deformity in their daughters, from long 
sitting on these benches, at length prevailed, and a change was eflfected. 



Heating and ventilating came next ; but here lie was far less sue 
cessful. One thing, however, he could and did do. At every recess, 
in cold or heat, the doors and windows were thrown open, and the 
pure air of heaven was allowed to sweep through for a few moments. 

Yet his largest innovation upon ancient usage, was in methods ot 
instruction, particularly for the youngest pupils. Up to this period, 
in nine-tenths of the schools, most of the smaller pupils had done 
little more than " say A, B, and sit on a bench ;" and that, as we have 
seen, a very indifferent one. As a consequence, those whom Satan 
found idle he usually employed. Hence many petty school laws, 
and petty punishments. The idea of employing them in something 
useful by way of prevention had not occurred to a dozen teachers in 
all that region. 

Blackboards at that time had not been thought of; but slates were 
cheap and abundant. Dr. Alcott procured a dozen or two of small 
size, and one very large one, and a quantity of pencils, and resolved 
on an experiment. 

He would say to his abecedarians sometime after opening school; 
Now you have sat so still this long time, that I am going to let you 
take the slates and and amuse yourselves with them. The small slates 
and pencils were then distributed, while the large one w^as either held 
up by an older pupil, or suspended on a nail where they could all see it. 

On this incipient blackboard, he had coarsely traced, as a copy for 
imitation, a house, a tree, a cat, or a dog. They were not slow to fol- 
low out his suggestions, and thus to keep themselves, for a time, out 
of mischief. From the pictures of dogs, birds, cats and other animals, 
and of houses, trees, (fee, they proceeded to making letters, in the 
printed form, and then to their construction in words, and finally to 
writing and composition. 

But the detail of his innovations, especially in methods of instruc- 
tion, will hardly be needful to those who have read his " Confessions 
of a Schoolmaster," written some twenty years afterward, and now of 
late revised and reprinted. This work reveals a soul struggling with 
error both internal and external ; though afterward, through good re- 
port and through evil, reaching a point of education to which few 
teachers at that early period ever attained. If its style should be ob- 
jected to as a little too homespun, yet its plain, straightforward com- 
mon sense, and its strict adhesion to truth and nature, impart an in- 
terest which even now, at this stage of the common school reforma- 
tion, render it next to the " District School as it was," one of the most 
suitable books which could be had for the Teacher's library. 

So great, indeed, was his enthusiasm and so unreserved his devo- 


tion to the cause to which he seemed to be for life devoted, that he 
could hardly think, converse, or read, on any other subject. It even 
abridged his hours of sleep, and occasionally deprived him of his 
usual food. For he often rose before daylight, during the short days 
of winter, and hastened away to his school room, sometimes a mile 
or a mile and a half distant, before the family with whom he boarded 
was up ; and occasionally before he had access to even a frugal meal. 

If it is asked what he could find to do at the school room for an 
hour or two before the time of opening the school, the reply is, that 
in the first place he made his own fires and swept his own floor, and 
would permit no one else to do it. Ilis maxim, here, in a matter 
which concerned the happiness of sixty or seventy children, was, " If 
you want your work well done, do it yourself." This is not mentioned 
as a thing which should be imitated. The time and energies of the 
teacher are too valuable. But, in the second place, he had a great 
deal of preparation to make, copies to be written, lessons to be assigned, 
<fec. Thirdly, he delighted in getting around him a group of chil- 
dren, and telling them stories from day to day, and thus securing their 
punctual and cheerful attention. Fourthly, there were even at times 
extra recitations in branches which he was not allowed or expected to 
permit during the usual formal six hours. 

In short — and to repeat — his zeal and labors were as untiring, as 
they were unheard of before in that region. He would not only labor 
for his flock in season, but out of season ; and as he would himself 
doubtless now admit, out of reason too. For he not only gave up his 
mornings and evenings to the children or their parents, but he 
would not even permit himself to sit in the school room, for a mo- 
ment. He was, literally, on his feet from morning till night ; and as 
it was vulgarly expressed by some of his patrons, not only always on 
his feet, but always " on the jump." 

The severity of his self-denials and exertions joined to other causes, 
especially a feeble and delicate constitution, brought on him, toward 
the end of summer, a most violent attack of erysipelas, from the ef- 
fects of which, though he escaped with his life, he never entirely re- 

At the close of the year for which he had engaged, although the 
district did not feel able to continue the school any longer by the year, 
they unanimously engaged him for the unusually long term of six 
months the ensuing winter, at the price of thirteen dollars per month 
or seventy-eight dollars for the term. This was deemed a compensa- 
tion quite in advance for those times, and was accepted as entirely 


Here, then, lie was, during the winter of 1823-4, laboring exceed- 
ingly hard both in teaching and in discipline ; and yet in the end, in 
both departments, accomplishing his object. It is, however, to be 
confessed — if he has not himself confessed it — that he resorted oc- 
casionally to such measures, in order to secure the desired discipline, 
as were neither satisfactory to himself, on reflection, nor fully sustained 
by the public opinion. However, he made his mark, and it was not 
easily obliterated. 

His influence, here, was continued — perhaps increased — by A. B. 
Alcott, his old friend and kinsman, who became his successor in the 
pedagogic chair. Within a few years the district in which the last 
mentioned labors were performed, has, in common with an adjoining 
district, erected a public school house, which is greatly in advance of 
any thing of the kind in that part of Connecticut; and at an expense, 
as it is said, of $16,000. 

During four months of the winter of 1824-5, Dr. Alcott had the 
care of the central school of Bristol, a district adjoining the scene 
of his former labors. Here he was useful, but with two or three 
drawbacks. One was his medical studies ; for he was not now board- 
ing around, but in the family of a medical man, to whom he recited. 
Then, in order to gain time, he restricted himself to four hours sleep, 
which rendered him more nervous and irritable than formerly ; and 
finally brought on him a fit of sickness, which, though he unexpect- 
edly recovered from it, in some degree impaired his energies, and neu- 
tralized his eflforts for the whole winter. He did not add to his repu- 
tation as a teacher by the efforts of this winter; but rather dimin- 
ished it. 

In studying a new profession, he had no wish or intention to re- 
linquish the profession he had already chosen. But the longer he 
had taught, the more he had felt his incapacity to the task, and the 
greater his anxiety to qualify himself if possible, and if not too late, 
for so responsible an office. And as, on the other hand, there was no 
Normal School, or Teacher's Seminary to which he could resort, and, 
on the other, he had not the pecuniary means of pursuing an academ- 
ic and collegiate course, he not unaptly and unwisely concluded to 
study medicine as a preparation, indirectly, for the office of educator 
reserving to himself the privilege, should his health fail, of which 
there were increasing signs, of practicing medicine as a substitute. 

During the winter of 1825-6, he attended a regular course of med- 
ical lectures at New Haven, and in the following March received a 
license to practice medicine and surgery. But his health was far 

from being good, and he was himself beginning to be more apprehen- 



sive than consumptive people usually arc, of a fatal result. However 
he was more determined than ever before, to devote his life, if possi- 
ble, to the work which Divine Providence seemed to have assigned 

But he came from the college at a season of the year when it was 
not customary to employ any but female teachers in the schools; and 
after some hesitation, he made application, in order not to interrupt 
his chosen labors, for the central school in his native town, at one dol- 
lar and fifty cents a week, and " board round ;" that being the usual 
rate paid to female teachers. This offer, though unexpected and not 
a little mysterious, was accepted; and in May, 1826, he commenced 
his work. 

It was his settled determination, and he did not hesitate to make it 
fully known, to have a model school, on his own favorite plan ; al- 
though the pecuniary means were wanting. He had not ten dollars 
in the world. All his resources, after paying for his medical educa- 
tion and a few books, and after remunerating his father, as he was 
proud to believe he did, for the expense of bringing him up, were 
soon exhausted in fitting up his school room, — in the purchase of 
maps, designs, vessels for flowers and plants, and such fixtures, as, in 
his judgment, would conduce to the proper cultivation of the mind 
and heart and taste of his pupils. He rightly judged that a plain 
and simple people, who knew him well, would not seriously object to 
innovations which cost them nothing in dollars and cents. He was, 
indeed, regarded as a little visionary, but was permitted to go on. 
And in his missionary life — going from house to house for his 
board — he had opportunity for making, from time to time, such ex- 
planations as were quite satisfactory. 

Besides carrying out and perfecting the approved method of teach- 
ing the elementary branches, which he had for several years been 
applying with so much success, he added to them several others, 
particularly in defining, grammar, and geography. He introduced 
also, what he called his silent, or Quaker exercise. This consisted in 
requiring his pupils, at a certain time every morning — usually imme- 
diately after the opening of the school and devotional exercises — to 
lay aside every thing else, and give themselves up to reflection on the 
events, duties <fec., of the twenty-four hours next preceding. At the 
close of this unbroken silence, which usually lasted five minutes, any 
pupil was liable to be called upon to relate the recitations and events 
of the preceding day, in their proper order and sequence. 

In commencing this school, in his native town. Dr. Alcott had oth- 
er, and very exalted ulterior aims. His warm heart embraced no less 



than the whole of his townsmen. These lie meant to enlighten, ele- 
vate, and change, until Wolcott should become, instead of a rude, 
unenlightened, obscure place, a miniature Switzerland. 

But his pulmonary difficulties, which had been for ten years in- 
creasing upon him, aggravated, no doubt, by hard study, improper 
diet, and other irregularities of the preceding winter, now became 
threatening in the extreme. Besides a severe cough and great ema- 
ciation, he was followed by hectic fever and the most exhausting and 
discouraging perspirations. lie fought bravely to the last moment; 
but was compelled to quit the field and relinquish for the present all 
hopes of accomplishing his mission. 

For a short time he followed the soundest medical advice he could 
obtain. He kept quiet, took a little medicine, ate nutritious food, and 
when his strength would permit, breathed pure air. This course was 
at length changed for one of greater activity, and less stimulus, lie 
abandoned medicine, adopted, for a time, the " starvation" system, or 
nearly that, and threw himself, by such aids as he could obtain, into 
the fields and woods, and wandered among the hills and mountains. 

In the autumn he was evidently better. He was able to perform 
light horticultural labors a few hours of the day, and to ride on horse- 
back. For six months he rode on horseback almost daily, as a sort 
of journeyman physician; at the end of which period he commenced 
the practice of medicine on his own responsibility, in the same place 
where he had last labored, and where he was born — still continuing 
to make his professional visits on horseback. 

His hopes of reforming his native town now revived. He not only 
practiced medicine, but took a deep interest in the moral and intel- 
lectual condition of the people. He superintended a Sabbath School ; 
aided in the examination of the public school teachers ; held teach- 
ers' meetings, in " his own hired house," &c., &c. Not Oberlin him- 
self in his beloved Ban de La Roche, had purer or more benevolent 
or more exalted purposes. 

As a member of the prudential committee on common schools, he 
was active, efficient, and highly useful. He was, in fact, the soul of 
the board. If a teacher was to be examined, it was under his direc- 
tion and eye ; if the schools were to be visited officially, he was al- 
ways on hand to fulfill the public expectation ; if the teachers were 
to convene weekly, for mutual improvement, it was by his suggestion 
and at his house. If a new school book was needed, he was consult- 
ed. His counsels were often regarded as decisive. No time or means 
which did not interfere with his professional duties, was grudged, 
when he had the slightest hope of promoting the ])ublic good. 


Occasionally however, as might have been expected, his zeal out- 
run his knowledge, and his movements were regretted. CardelFs 
*' Jack Halyard," for example, was adopted for a class-book in read- 
innf for all the classes in the schools ; when it should have been used 
by those of a certain stage of progress only. But like Goldsmith's 
village schoolmaster, " e'en his failings leaned to virtue's side," and 
were soon forgotten. 

AVe have seen something of his desire for public improvement in 
his attempt to form a youthful library. While teaching a public 
school, lie was in the habit of collecting a small library of useful 
books for the young, which he used, during the term, as a school li- 
brary — giving away the volumes at the close of the term, to his pu- 
pils. It does not appear that, at this early period, the subject of 
school libraries had ever been agitated ; but here was at least the idea 
in embryo. 

As soon as he was fairly established as a physician, he began to 
collect a library for the town. Its volumes were loaned, from time to 
time, to such persons as had already imbibed a taste for reading ; and 
doubtless had a good influence. But the plan was so troublesome 
that he soon abandoned it; and in his stead prevailed with his friends 
and townsmen to establish a public town library on the ruins of the 
old one already mentioned. 

He had already begun to write for the newspapers, on various sub- 
jects, particularly on common school education. A long and stormy 
series had been published — though in an uncouth and somewhat 
bombastic style — in the Columbian Register of New Haven, as 
early as 1823. Several shorter series on the same subject appeared 
in this and other papers during the years 1826 and 182V. The habit 
was not wholly discontinued while he was pursuing the practice of 
medicine and surgery. Among his contributions of this sort, between 
the years 1826 and 1829, were a number of articles in the Boston 
Journal of Education, then under the care of Mr. William Paissell. 

A correspondence was also opened about this time, with Mr. Rus- 
sell, as well as with Rev. Samuel J. May, of Brooklyn, in Connecti- 
cut, and several other warm friends of educational improvement, in 
different parts of the last mentioned state, particularly in Hartford. 
This correspondence was valuable as an aid in maturing his own views, 
and those of others. 

On entering the fourth year of his medical practice, he found his 
health so much improved that he volunteered to return to teaching. 
This was in the autumn of 1829. In less than two weeks he was 
^.eachinir a district school in the adjoining town of Southington. 


His school, though in a somewhat remote corner of the town, \\i\% 
large, and made up of rather heterogeneous materials. Here he pur- 
sued his improved methods of teaching without molestation. There 
were a few complaints about too rigid discipline; but in general, his 
course met with approbation. In the method of teaching English 
grammar, especially Etymologj-, he even made large advances. This 
method was published both in the Journal of Education and the Con- 
fessions of a Schoolmaster ; but they w^ere so novel, and yet so im- 
portant, that teachers and friends of education who have not seen 
either of these works, will doubtless be gltid to read a brief descrip- 
tion of them. The following, for example, was his method of teach- 
ing the definition of the verb. 

Without any preliminary information with regard to what he was 
about to do, he would ask his pupils to take their slates and pencils, 
— or pen and paper, if more convenient — and be ready to attend to 
his direction. Then, stamping on the floor with his foot, or clapping 
bis hands, he would require them to write down what they saw him 
do. When this was done, he would peiform some other common ac- 
tion, such as whistling, hopping, jumping, coughing, laughing, or 
singing, and tell them to write again. When he had proceeded far 
enough for a single lesson, he would tell them, one by one, to read aloud 
what they had written. Some would be found to have expressed the 
action, as stamping, in different words, or in more than one word ; 
but in general they were found to have seized the idea ; and after a 
few attempts they would succeed in writing the proper words very 
readily. "Now," he would say, "what have you been doing?'* 
The reply would be various, according to the genius of the pupil ; 
but, by cross questions, he would usually soon find they had taken 
hold of the main idea, viz., that the words they had written described 
actions. When the point was fairly secured, he would add : " These 
words, which you have written, are verbsy " Now%" he would ask, 
" what is a verb '?" Nor would he be satisfied till he found they per- 
fectly understood the matter. Such a definition is never forgotten. 

He did not always commence with the names of actions or verbs, 
but oftener with nouns or the names of things. In that case he would 
set them first to writing down the names of all the things in the room, 
or in their father's garden, or in the road between that and the school- 
house. The names of actions came next ; then substitutes for names, or 
pronouns. For this last, and indeed, for all the parts of speech, and for 
most of their divisions and subdivisions, he had his peculiar methods. 

His first etymological course of teaching on this plan was made as 
an experiment. It was in the depth of a very cold winter, and some 


of the pupils, among whom was one female, had to walk a mile or 
more, in deep snow. The proposal made by the teacher was, that 
they should come to the school room at simrise, and remain an hour. 
The course was to consist of ten lessons. The class consisted of ten 
individuals, and not one of them failed of attending punctually from 
the beginning to the end of the course. Their progress was respecta- 
ble. They acquired as much solid knowledge on this subject, during 
the ten lessons of an hour each, as is usually acquired in a whole 
term on the ordinary plan. 

In the progress of the winter he made a successful attempt to con- 
vene teachei-s, one or two evenings in a week, for mutual improve- 
ment. They were some eight or ten in number. One was a female. 
They read such works as Hall's "Lectures on School-Keeping," and 
the " District School as it was," and made their comments. They 
also gave an account, mutually, of their experience and progress as 

The impression made by these labors was deep and abiding, but it 
slowly impaired his health and depressed his spirits ; and, being fear- 
ful of a relapse of his pulmonary tendencies he abandoned, fur a time, 
all hope of teaching permanently. 

His plan now was to find, if possible, a manual labor school, where 
he might study a little more thoroughly his profession, at litlle, if any 
expense. But, as it appeared, on inquiry, that nothing had yet been 
done, he gave up the pursuit, and concluded to labor on the farm for 
the summer, near New Haven. 

But just as he was settling down on the farm, he had occasion to 
1)6 in Hartford, where, to his surprise, he met Rev. Wm. C. Wood- 
bridge, who had returned from Europe ; and though in feeble health, 
was endeavoring to rouse the attention of a few friends of education 
to the necessity of forming a school for teachers, on the plan of Mr. 
Fellenberg's school, in Hofvvyl, which he had been for some time 
studying. Mr. Woodbridge inquired of Dr. Aleott what he considered 
the capital error of modern education. " The custom of pushing the cul- 
tivation of the intellect at the expense of health and morals," was the 
reply. This question and reply laid the foundation of an acquaintance 
and friendship that was as lasting as the life of the parties. 

It was not difficult for Dr. Aleott to yield so much of his own indi- 
viduality of opinion and purpose as to become an assistant to Mr. 
Woodbridge in his endeavors to effect his purpose of establishing, 
somewhere in the vicinity of Hartford, a miniature Fellenberg school. 
He had unbounded confidence in the integrity and plans of Mr 
Woodbridge, and high hopes of his success ; and of becoming himself a 


Vehrli in the new institution. So great was this confidence that 
though encumbered with a debt of some twelve or fifteen hundretl 
dollars, which he had contracted in order to establish himself in the 
practice of medicine, and which he had not yet been able, in any part, 
to cancel, he consented, with the permission of his creditors, to labor 
for a year or two with Mr. Woodbridge, at the very moderate com- 
pensation of twelve dollars a month ; which would just clothe him, 
and pay the annual interest of his debt. And even when, sometime 
afterward, he had the oflfer of a school in an adjacent town at $300 a 
year — an offer which two years before he would have accepted with 
all his heart — he only required that Mr. Woodbridge should raise his 
waffes from twelve to fifteen dollars. This is mentioned to shew his 
devotion, at this time, to the cause of common school improvement. 

His employments with Mr. Woodbridge were at first various ; for 
such was his hope of the future, that he was content for the present 
with "small things," — the preparation of a map, the correction of a 
portion of geography, or the preparation of an essay or a reviev/. Mr. 
Woodbridge not only sanctioned but encouraged the continuance of 
his appeals to the friends of common schools through the periodicals. 
lie also made frequent and persevering excursions into the surround- 
ing country towns to examine their schools, and report concerning 
them in the papers and journals. The press teemed with his ar- 
ticles; especially the Connecticut Observer and Hartford Courant. 
One very substantial and elaborate review of a report on the Manual 
Labor School of Pennsylvania — the product of his pen — appeared 
about this time, which met with much favor, and was quoted by 
foreign writers. 

While associated with Mr. AVoodbridge he not only made the 
means of elevating the common schools his constant study, but in 
concert with him, laid many plans for the advancement of the cause. 
He conceived the idea of establishing a journal of education, but his 
own and Mr. Woodbridge's indigence, and his own great inexperience 
and general diffidence, prevented. He was more successful, however, 
than formerly, in his attempts to rouse public inquiry on the subject, 
by his contributions to the periodical press, and by his pedestrian 
excursions, and occasional conversations and lectures. 

It was during this period, that is, the years 1830 and 1831, that he 
prepared, and on sundry occasions delivered his Essay on the Construc- 
tion of School Houses, to which the American Institute of Instruc- 
tion, in the autumn of 1831, awarded a premium, and which led the 
way to that large and thorough improvement in this department, 
which is now going on in this country and elsewhere. He also wrote 


.md presented to tlie same body an essay on penmanship ; which, 
though it did not obtain the premium, was deemed second in point of 
excellence, was recommended to be published, and was widely 

One field of labor, in which he was wont to engage, has been thus 
ftir unintentionally omitted. The public common school fund in Con- 
necticut had at this time become so large that its increase, as appor- 
tioned and applied to common schools, was beginning to be felt to be 
an evil rather than a blessing. It was sufficient to pay the teachers 
for a few months of the year, and the parents had almost ceased to 
take a personal interest in their management and general conduct. The 
late Mr. Gallaudet, Hon. Roger M. Sherman, Hon. Hawley Olmsted, 
Mr. Woodbridge, <fec., saw the necessity of forming a state society for 
the improvement of common schools, in which this subject and other 
topics should be freely discussed. Such a society had been actually 
formed, when Dr. Alcott and Mr. Woodbridge became associated ; and 
had held several meetings. Into this movement Dr. Alcott entered 
with all his heart, and he did much to sustain it. 

A history of the first public school in Hartford, in which some 
recent advances had been made, a volume of a hundred pages or so, 
was written by him about this time, and also a volume of nearly the 
same size, entitled a Word to Teachers. They were crude produc- 
tions, but not devoid of a certain kind of merit, in that they were 
highly practical. But his chief forte, in writing, was the newspaper ; 
for if its style was not more elegant, — it was more racy and spir- 
ited. It is believed that his essays in conjunction with the labors of 
others, had much influence not only in New England but throughout 
the United States. 

But the most important of all his numerous avocations, at this 
period, was his travels for the purpose of collecting facts concerning 
schools. When Mr. Woodbridge could spare him, and when, too, his 
health became somewhat impaired by too much confinement to the 
desk, he would sally forth on one of these expeditions, on which he 
was at times absent several weeks. 

In 1831, Mr. Woodbridge, having removed to Boston, to superin- 
tend and edit the Journal of Education, which he had purchased of 
its first proprietor, urgently solicited Dr. Alcott to follow him. At 
first he hesitated, as it was feared, both by him and his friends, that 
a residence in the eastern part of Massachusetts would hasten apace 
his consumption. But having in 1830, abandoned all exciting food 
and drink, and adopted such other improved physical habits, as 
seemed to be imparting new energies to his frame, he at length 




concluded to accept the proposals ; and very early in the year 1832, 
he removed to Boston. 

The journey was made during a great snow storm in January, 
which before he reached Boston, turned into a severe drenching rain, 
in which by an accident to the stage coach he became so much ex- 
posed, that immediately after his arrival at Boston, he was taken ill 
with hemorrhage from the lungs, and other threatening symptoms. 
But under the care of Dr. J. C. Warren and good nursing, he recov- 
ered slowly, and was able to proceed to the duties which by his 
engagement with Mr. Woodbridge, were assigned him. From that 
day to this, a quarter of a century, he has, with the exception of one 
or two less formidable attacks, enjoyed a most surprising immunity 
from pulmonary disease ; nor has he often had so much as a common 

Dr. Alcott had formed many valuable acquaintances in Connecticut ; 
among them, Dr. John L. Comstock, Rev. Horace Hooker, Rev. C. 
A. Goodrich, Noah Webster, A. F. Wilcox, and Josiah HoJbrook. 
He left the state with regret ; but with the expectation of returning 
to it in at most a few months. He did not however, return until 
after nearly twelve years. 

Besides assisting Mr. Woodbridge in conducting the Journal (now 
Annals) of Education, by writing a large proportion of the articles on 
physical education, methods of instruction, &c., and a considerable 
number of book notices and reviews, he was for two years, 1832 and 
1833, the practical editor of a Children's Weekly paper, started by 
Mr. Woodbridge and his aged father ; one of the objects of which 
was to serve as a reading book in common schools. The paper was 
called the Juvenile Rambler. It was perhaps, the first paper of the 
kind ever issued in this country ; and it so far succeeded as to be 
taken by several schools in very large numbers, and to be used with 
great satisfaction and profit. But it was troublesome to its editors, 
and at the end of two years was discontinued. 

Dr. Alcott's labors in the cause of education, novi^ became much 
more varied and extended. Besides assisting Mr. W., he wrote 
many fugitive pieces on various subjects connected with physical edu- 
cation and morals, and the advancement of common education — for 
amid all his miscellaneous labors he never lost sight for one moment, 
of the public school. He even lectured on this subject, not only 
before the American Institute of Instruction, the American Lyceum, 
and associations for educational improvement, but to teachers and pa- 
rents, in various towns and cities of ihe commonwealth of Massachu- 
setts, as well as of Rhode Island and Connecticut, and when he could 


not in person attend public meetings of the friends of education, he 
often sent an essay to be read before them. 

Among the latter was a tract entitled, "Missionaries of Education," 
which was subsequently published, and had a tolerably wide circulation. 
But his theory on this point, was evidently half a century in advance 
of the age, though it could not fail to recommend itself to all think- 
ing men who took the trouble to peruse it, as replete with good sense, 
and dictated by a heart expanding with benevolence toward the rising 

In the years 1832 and 1833, he wrote a small volume for young 
men, entitled, "The Young Man's Guide," which besides being the 
first popular book of this class, that was perfectly reliable, and which 
expressed in a lucid manner, and in such a style as not to offend, some 
of the physiological dangei-s of young men, was written throughout 
in such a spirit of fatherly kindness, and such a simple style, as to 
win attention and secure an extensive sale. From the avails of this 
work, chiefly at four cents a copy, the author in the thirty-sixth year 
of his age, paid his debts, now of very long standing, and once more 
felt himself a free man. At the end of the year 1833, he was solicited 
by S. G. Goodrich to become the acting editor of a little monthly 
journal, which he had now been conducting one year, entitled Par- 
ley's Magazine. He had the editoiial charge of this work four 
successive years ; with how much of wisdom he conducted it, the 
public have long ago decided. He also edited " The People's Maga- 
zine," a semi-monthly work, for one year. 

In 1834 came out the " House I Live in." Many of the ideas 
had indeed already appeared either in the Juvenile Rambler or else- 
where, but here they were incorporated into a^volume. This was one 
of the most truly original works of the age. It is still popular with 
a certain class of people, and deservedly so ; though it never had a 
rapid sale. It was re-published in England, and has been used in 
some places as a class-book in the schools. 

" The Moral Reformer and Teacher in the Human Constitution," a 
monthly periodical devoted to the discussion of various topics in the 
department of physical education, was begun in 1835, without pecu- 
niary means, and with only a single subscriber. It was indorsed how- 
ever, by such men as the late talented Dr. John C. Warren ; and had 
for nine years, under the various names of Moral Reformer, Library 
of Health, and Teacher of Health, a very considerable influence ; 
though it was directly and indirectly a source of much pecuniary loss 
to the editor. 

In 1836, the "Young Mother" appeared. This was a work on 


physical education, for the female heads of fiimilies ; and though not 
very original, was a work of much value. The "Young Wife," 
"Young Husband," "Young Woman's Guide," and "Young House- 
keeper," all .of them possessing various degrees of merit, and ^witten 
for the family, followed in the course of two or three years. 
So did the "Mother in Her Family," "Living on Small Means," "The 
Sabbath School as it should be," " Confessions of a Schoolmaster," 
(fee, (fee. "The Mother in Her Family" had a more limited cir- 
culation than most of Dr. Alcott's other family books, and perhaps 
deserved it. The author's attempt at imagination was an effort for 
which his peculiar education had not prepared him. It had merit, 
but it had many faults. 

It is also worthy of remark that one or two of the forty or fifty 
volumes of various sizes which Dr. Alcott has written for the Sabbath 
School Libraries of various Christian denominations, though works of 
general worth and merit, are slightly open to the same criticism ; 
while the greater part of this class of his works are, in every respect, 
as juvenile works, of a high order. 

•His contributions to the periodical press, some of which have been 
alluded to, many of them to the llecorder. Watchman, and Travel- 
ler of Boston, and to the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, have 
been almost innumerable. He has preserved copies of more than a 

Dr. Alcott continued to labor on the Annals of Education, to the 
end of its career. After having long aided Mr. Woodbridge, some- 
times for pay and sometimes without, and the failure of the latter's 
health in 1836, Dr. Alcott became his coadjutor, and then for several 
years his successor. 

Probably no living individual has devoted more hours, during the 
last forty years, to education, especially that of the common school 
and the family, than Dr. Alcott. Not many days have passed during 
that time, in which he has not performed some labor in that field. 
Besides his writings, he has also spoken much and often; giving, 
usually, lectures either on hygiene to the scholars,* or on instruction 
and discipline, mainly for the benefit of teachers. 

• He has related to us the following anecdotes, which may serve for illustrations. Not 
long since a little boy came running up to him, saying : •' How do you do. Dr. A 1 When 
are you coming to see our school again 1" " Have I ever visited your school V was the 
reply. "Oh, yes sir, more than a year ago ; and you said you would try to come again." 
"Where is your school?'' Here in West Newton ; don't you remember it ? You told us 
about the houses we lived in; and about eating green apples; and I have not eaten a greea 
apple since." 



William Channing Woodbridge was born in Medford, Mass., 
December 18th, 1794. His father was Rev. William Woodbridge, 
whose name is identified with the early history of female education 
in Connecticut. Ilis mother, Ann Channing, was a sister of the fa- 
ther of the late Rev. Dr. W. E. Channing of Boston. She died when 
her son was about fourteen ; but his father lived to an advanced age. 

The family removed from Medford to Middletown, Connecticut, in 
1*798, where the f^ither took an active interest in the improvement of 
common schools, and organized the first Association of Teachers in 
this country. Here in 1799, the son learned his alphabet: and im- 
mediately commenced the study of Latin, read Accidence and Corde- 
rius. In 1801, the family having removed to Norwich, he studied 
Latin there with W. McGee. His father subsequently removed to 
Newark, New Jersey, to take charge of a female sepiinary ; where, in 
1 804, we find the son studying the Greek Testament. In 1 806 he stud- 
ied mathematics and chemistry; and Homer in 1807. He entered 
freshman at Yale Collge, June, 1808, at the age of thirteen years 
and six months. I am careful to give particulars, to show their con- 
nection with that feeble constitution which caused him so much suffer- 
ing in after life. From the fact of this premature development and 
exercise of his mind, and from his own statements and my personal 
knowledge, I have no doubt of the existence, at this period, of what 
medical men call " latent scrofula ;" nor that the tendency was greatly 
aggravated by liis premature studies. For though his parents were 
wise enough to defer his " alphabet" to his fifth year, yet such was 
his aptitude for study, and such his advantages, under his father's 
home teaching, and in the sick chamber of his mother, as well as 
with other excellent teachers, that we see him entering college at an 
immature age, and with a delicacy of constitution which, while it 
promised him college honors, did not augur well for his general health. 
Perhaps the worst feature of this hot-house education, was, after all, 
his being so. much in his mother's sick room. Such confinement may, 
indeed, have had a good moral iufiueiice on him, but must have con- 





tributed not a little to his after physical sufferings, as well as detract- 
ed from his general usefulness. 

Of Mr. Woodbridge's college life not much is known. His account of 
himself during that dangerous period is in some few particulars different 
from what might have been expected by those who know the manner 
of his early training and his general inoffensiveness. Yet, although 
those of his peculiar defective physical organization are, in some re- 
spects, unusually exposed to the besetments of vice, still their moral 
principles and powers are often proportionately forward. Thus it 
was with Mr. Woodbridge. He passed the fiery ordeal wholly un- 

Although it does not clearly appear that at this early stage of his 
educational life, he regarded every thing in the shape of amusement, 
whether public or private, as absolutely and unqualifiedly sinful ; yet 
he certainly had less of sympathy with those of his years, than with 
the middle-aged and the old. The sick room education, to which he 
had been so much subjected, may have imparted a premature solidity 
to his habits of mind, if not a sluggish cast to those of his body. 

Mr. Woodbridge graduated at New Haven, September, 1811, when 
he was less than seventeen years old. The subsequent winter 
was spent in Philadelphia, pursuing his studies ; but of their particu- 
lar character, at this time, nothing remains except the following ex- 
traet from his private journal. " The study of the Bible in the origi- 
nal language, enters into my plan of study. My own inclination is 
to pursue a course of Biblical criticism. Ecclesiastical History, and 
Doctrinal Theology, as my great object ; but to connect it with a re- 
vival of my collegiate studies, particularly the Mathematics and Phi- 

He took the charge of Burlington Academy, in New Jersey, in July, 
1812 ; where he remained until November, 1814. Of his success in 
teaching we know nothing ; but the bare fact that he commenced at 
the immature age of seventeen and a half, and continued here almost 
two years and a half, together with his well-known subsequent success in 
Hartford and elsevrhere, is the best evidence we can desire in his favor. 

During the winter of 1814-15, we find him again at New Haven, 
attending lectures on Anatomy, Chemistry, Philosophy, <fec. His 
great desire to perfect his knowledge of these and his other college 
studies had probably led to this change, and induced him to defer 
teaching at least as a profession, for a few years longer, or, more prob- 
ably forever. 

Mention is made, in his private journal, of a very interesting revi- 
val of religion, during this season, in Yale College ; and we are led to 


infer that he was himself one of its subjects, as were also many others 
whose names have since been Avell and favorably known to the Christ- 
ian public ; not a few of whom have gone to their final award. Such, 
at least, were Codman, Cornelios, and Nettleton. Mr. Woodbridge 
made a public profession of religion by uniting with the college 
church, April 2d, 1815. He was now in his twenty-first year. 

In September of the same year, he commenced a course of theo- 
logical study with Dr. Dwight, then President of Yale College ; where 
he remained till the death of his teacher, which happened January 
11th, 1817. In July of this year, he entered the Theological Semi- 
nary at Princeton, New Jersey. At this time, and probably from the 
beginning his studies with Dr. Dwight, (if not indeed from a some- 
what earlier period,) he had cherished the hope of being a foreign 
missionary. But he had not been long at Princeton before a new field 
was opened to him. There was a call on him to join Messrs. Gallaudet 
and Le Clerc of Hartford, in conducting the American Asylum for 
the Deaf and Dumb, — then in its incipient stage of existence. Under 
date of August 30th, 1817, he thus says of himself: 

" During the week, my attention has been almost constantly occu- 
pied with the subject of the asylum. At times my heart as been af- 
fected and enlarged. I felt at one time particularly, as if I could 
rely on the promise : "Acknowledge Him in all thy ways, and He 
shall direct thy paths." I felt as if I could put myself in the hands 
of God ; yet I must expect his guidance in the use of means." 

Having occasion to spend a night about this time, in a family 
where there was a deaf and dumb girl, the conversation readily turned 
on the susceptibility of deaf mutes for receiving instruction. To grati- 
fy the anxious parents, as well as to make an important experiment, 
he undertook to explain to her the word think, as being equivalent to 
seeing absent objects. She seemed much interested, and appeared to 
partially understand him. 

The question, both with himself and his friends, was now, it would 
seem, that of the comparative importance of this work of teaching, 
and that of foreign missions. His views and final decision may be 
gathered from the following record in his journal, and deserves our 
I)articular attention. 

" This is missionary ground. It is carrying the gospel to those who 
can not otherwise obtain it; yet compared with the opening among 
the heathen, the asylum offers a very limited field. This is an imme- 
diate, certain field of usefulness. A mission is distant and uncertain." 

In short, he concluded to join the asylum, and went to Hartford 
for that purpose, December 4th, 1817. The pupils welcomed him 


"with great cordiality, as they had probably heard of his trials on their 
account, and knew his general reputation and character ; and in order 
to testify their high gratification, many of them spelled the word 
"jrlad" on their finwrs. 

In November, 1818, less than a year afterward, he received a press- 
ing invitation to become professor of chemistry in William and Mary 
College, in Virginia. The salary proposed was much larger than he 
had hitherto been accustomed to receive. But after consulting with 
the directors of the asylum, and with God and his own conscience, he 
declined the appointment. This I regard as a triumph of principle, 
■which did him much honor. It proved, moreover, to be the turning 
point of his life. 

Though his duties were sufficiently arduous and numerous at the asy- 
lum, he sometimes preached on the Sabbath — in general, I believe, 
gratuitously — in various places in and about Hartford. He had been 
licensed to preach by the North Association of Connecticut, February 
2d, 1819. 

This attempt to go beyond the field which Divine Providence had 
opened for him at the asylum, was doubtless an error ; though Mr. 
Woodbridge is not the first good man who has broken himself down 
by endeavoring to do too much. But he had been admonished al- 
ready. Constitutional feebleness, to say nothing of dyspeptic and 
nervous tendencies, had been a serious interruption to his theological 
studies ; and had not been without influence in the decision of the 
great question whether or not he should become a foreign missionary. 

In the progress of the summer of 1820, his health began to give 
way so as in a great measure to unfit him for his duties. It should 
be observed, however, that in addition to his ordinary routine of la- 
bor in the asylum, and such other extra duties as from his great con- 
scientiousness, he may have been led to engage in, some of which I 
have already mentioned, it is highly probable he had begun, before 
this time, the preparation of his Rudiments of Geography. For 
though nothing is said, in his journal, which would lead to this con- 
clusion, yet we know that as early as in the beginning of the year 
1822 this work was finished, and considerable progress made with the 
larger work, the Universal Geography. 

They who know any thing about the preparation of an elementary 
school-book on a science which they are teaching as enthusiastically 
as Mr. Woodbridge taught geography to deaf mutes in Hartford, 
•will understand the exhaustion which accompanies it, and will not 
be surprised that his health materially suffered. In fact he was so 
far reduced, that by about the middle of the year 1820, both he and 


his friends were much alarmed for his safety ; and, together with his 
medical counselors, were urging a voyage to Europe, as the most prob- 
able means of his restoration. In October, 1820, he accordingly 
sailed for the south of Europe. A gentleman who accompanied him 
on this voyage, thus says of him : 

" In the intervals of a severe and depressing dyspeptic disorder, he 
displayed his devotion to the conscientious and philanthropic course 
which he afterward adopted, in the spirit of a missionary ; often di- 
recting conversation to subjects which he afterward prosecuted to a 
great degree. lie was one of the first passengers then known, who 
had attempted to practice religious services at sea. Among others 
of his experiments that might be mentioned, while crossing from Gib- 
raltar to Algesiras, he once engaged a motley company of Spaniards, 
Moors, &c., in an animated and interesting conversation in the lan- 
guage of natural signs." 

In this first voyage to Europe, and in efforts there for the recov- 
ery of his health, he spent about eight months. During this time 
he was in Palermo, Naples, Leghorn, Rome, and other Italian 
cities ; and although amid scenes of war and confusion, he not only 
gained in health, but accumulated much geographical knowledge ; an 
object which he had no doubt kept in view from the very first concep- 
tion of the journey. 

Mr. Woodbridge returned to Hartford July 4th, 1821, with his 
health partially restored. The autumn appears to have been spent in 
perfecting his Rudiments of Geography, and in completing the Uni- 
versal Geography ; which last was published in 1 824. To these two 
great works he devoted his whole physical and mental energies for 
more than two years. 

The friends of education who read this sketch, hardly need be told 
that up to this period, geography as a science, had received but little 
attention in the public schools of New England ; with the exception of 
a few more favored of the larger schools, spelling, reading, and writ- 
ing, were nearly all the branches that received special attention. A 
little arithmetic was taught here and there, but even this was for the 
most part crowded into the evening. The master, as parents sup- 
posed, had no time for it by day, without interfering with his other 
studies ; and they sometimes formally and sagely voted " cyphering" 
out of the school. As for geography, some few schools studied Morse ; 
a few others used as a sort of reading book, Nathaniel D wight's 
" System of Geography," which was arranged in the form of question 
and answer. The vast majority, however, paid no attention what- 
ever to the subject. 


But, Mr. Woodbridge, while instructing the deaf mutes at Hartford, 
and perhaps yet earher had hit upon an improved plan of teaching, 
which is now too well known, as incorporated into most of our school ge- 
ographies, to need description. A similar method, had also been pursued 
by Mrs. Emma Willard of the Troy Female Seminary. Both these 
teachers were preparing their plans of teaching for publication, un- 
known to each other ; but Mrs. Willard was at length induced to 
merge her own work in that of Mr. Woodbridge. 

Woodbridge & Willard's Geographies produced a revolution in the 
method of teaching this useful science, wherever it had been taught 
before ; and by their simple and interesting system of classification, 
were a means of introducing this science in many schools where it 
had not then been taught. And if others have reaped a large 
measure of the pecuniary emolument to which these authors seem to 
have been justly entitled, it is a thing by no means new or unheard 
of. It is but the fate of most discoverers. Some men, it is true, meet 
it with more resolution than others, according, in fact, to their various 
force of bodily constitution. Yet if Columbus, with his gigantic mental 
and physical energies, was so broken down by it, that his hair was 
white at thirty years of age, it should hardly excite surprise in any 
who know how feeble Mr. Woodbridge was at that time to learn, 
that his health was not a little impaired by the ill treatment which, 
he received at the hands of his cotemj^oraries. It is certainly true 
that some of the works which were regarded by many as being stolen 
from Woodbridge & Willard, contained sundry improvements, but 
this was to have been expected. It must be a consolation, however, 
to his friends, at the present day, to know that his works still have an 
existence, and are regarded by not a few teachers, as preferable to any 
of their successors. It is also a still greater consolation to believe 
that the study and preparation of these works, led to his subsequent 
efforts in educational improvement. 

In April, 1824, he thus writes : "My geography is nearly com- 
pleted, and it becomes a serious question what course I shall now 
pursue." Unfitted as he was by ill health for teaching and the pul- 
pit, it is not to be wondered at that such a question should arise in his 
mind ; nor that he should think seriously of visiting England, Scot- 
land, France, Germany, and Switzerland, with the view of improving 
himself in the science of general education, and particularly in his 
favorite department, that of geography. 

It was not so common in those days to try to run away from dys- 

psia as it now is ; and yet such things had occasionally been done. 
Mr. Woodbridge's partial success in visiting the south of Europe, had 


encouraged liim, and raised the hopes of liis medical advisers. Tliey 
recommended another European voyage. Their prescription was not 
without its charms. It would give him a fine opportunity, among 
other things, to hold converse with many wise men, not only in Great 
Britain, hut on the continent. It would also enable him to visit 
schools, and perfect himself in the great work of educational reform 
•which it is believed he had already dared to meditate. 

The first year of his absence, during which his health was compar- 
atively good, was spent in arranging for the publication of his small 
geography in London, and in securing means of supporting himself; 
he also succeeded in introducing improvements into the instruc- 
tion of two of the deaf and dumb institutions of England. In the 
autumn of 1825, a relapse into ill health obliged him to seek south- 
ern Europe. Here he grew strong again ; and besides traveling 
again in France and Italy, he spent three months at Hofwyl, by invi- 
tation of M. de Fellenberg, as visitor and instructor. Here his health 
failed once more, and he went to Paris, January 1827, to correct a 
new edition of his large geography. He accomplished this work with 
some difficulty, owing to his declining strength. He gradually gave 
up the use of animal food, and adopted a spare diet almost entirely 
farinaceous. In October he went to Rome for the winter, traveling 
very slowly, and being forced by an attack of lumbago to stop at a 
private hospital at Lyons, where he grew comparatively well again, 
and proceeded to Rome in December. In July of 1828, he proceed- 
ed again to Switzerland, where he remained at Hofwyl, studying the 
system of Pestalozzi, until May, 1829. He then went to Frankfort, 
remained there studying the school institutions of southern Germany 
until July, proceeded to Brussels to investigate Jacotot's system, and 
reached Paris at the beginning of August, much better than when he 
had departed thence. 

In the autumn of 1829 he sailed from Havre for New York; hav- 
ing been the first American geographer to travel abroad for the sake 
of collecting materials to enrich his works ; and having made many 
valuable acquaintances both in England and on the continent, includ- 
ing Lord Brougham, Lady Byron, Dr. Chalmers, Dr. Andrew Thomp- 
son, M. de Fellenberg, Baron Humboldt, Pestalozzi, <fec. 

Besides the labor which he bestowed upon his geographical inves- 
tigations, he was also intent upon obtaining such a knowledge of the 
general state of education as would enable him to devote himself to 
its improvements at home, amid a multitude of difficulties both on 
account of ill health, and a want of pecuniary resources, such as would 
have deterred and discouraged most men. 


Soon after his return to this country, he visited Hartford, For tho 
purpose of rousing the attention of such men as the Rev. Mr. Gallau- 
det, Hon. Henry L. Ellsworth, Dr. John L. Comstock, and the teach- 
ers of the American Asylum, to the great importance of improving 
the condition of education, especially common education, in this coun- 
try. Indeed, from various remarks made by him soon after I first met 
him, in the spring of 1830, 1 am inchned to the opinion that he was 
not wholly without the hope of enlisting the friends of education at 
the asylum and elsewhere, in a scheme to establish a school for teach- 
ers in Hartford ; and perhaps of finding among the men of wealth 
in that city a second Fellenberg. But his ill health was an insur- 
mountable barrier to any decisive results, as well as to that speedy 
return to Europe, which he had been meditating. The latter project 
he at length wholly relinquished. He probably found the improve- 
ment of his geographies, in order to keep pace with the advances of 
the science, would be hkely to require all his bodily and mental ener- 
gies, as well as all his pecuniary resources. 

For educational efforts, however, the time was interesting and 
auspicious. During Mr. Woodbridge's absence in Europe, beginning 
with about the year 1825, that movement had arisen among the 
friends of education in the United States, of which Mr. Gallaudet's 
newspaper articles advocating special training for common school 
teachers ; the early efforts of Hawley Olmstead, Rev. Samuel J. May, 
Hon. R. M. Sherman, A. F. Wilcox, Josiah Holbrook, A. Bron- 
son Alcott, and William A. Alcott, in Connecticut: the organi- 
zation of the Hartford Society for the Improvement of Common 
Schools ; the early writings of James G. Carter, Rev. S. R. Hall, and 
others in Massachusetts ; and the publication of the American Jour- 
nal of Education, by William Russell, were parts and active stimu- 

The Society for the Improvement of Common Schools held seve- 
ral meetings at Hartford and New Haven, soon after Mr. Wood- 
bridge's return ; and so far as his health permitted, he exerted in 
them an active influence. At some of these meetings, it fell to the 
lot of the writer of this article to lecture on improvements in the con- 
struction of school houses, and kindred topics. The lecture on school 
houses was afterward sent to the American Institute of Instruction, and 
in 1 830 a prize was awarded to it. The interest Mr. Woodbridge took 
in the subject and in the manner of treating it, resulted in an intimate 
acquaintance, and in a conjunction as friends of the same cause. 

Another fact deserves to be mentioned. It has already been stated 
that the father of Mr. Woodbridge was a teacher. He was connect- 


ed with several of the earliest female schools in New England and 
New Jersey. Indeed, he continued a teacher for fifty years of his life- 
time, and died in the harness, as is believed, from excessive labors 
both in school and in the pulpit, when he was between seventy and 
eighty years of age. But what is most to our present purpose is 
the fact that he was President of the first School Association, in Mid- 
dlesex county, Connecticut, as early as the year 1*799 ; the object of 
which was the accomplishment of the same ends at which his son 
and his associates were aiming thirty years later. It is not needful 
to insist, in this case, on the doctrine of the hereditary descent of 
mental and moral qualities ; but it is certainly a singular coincidence. 
The interest which very naturally attaches to this fact is increased 
when it is understood that at the very juncture of which I am now 
speaking, the elder Mr. Woodbridge joined his son at Hartford, and 
became, for a considerable time a fellow laborer in a cause which he 
still loved with all his youthful ardor. 

Our united and separated efforts in behalf of education had enlist- 
ed a good deal of newspaper influence in this cause, especially at 
Hartford. But having become fatigued with this form of labor, I 
made known to Mr. Woodbridge my intention of establishing a pe- 
riodical at Hartford, to be devoted to the cause that so much engrossed 
our attention. But there were difficulties in the way ; and in the 
meantime Mr. Woodbridge purchased the American Journal of Edu- 
cation at Boston, changed the name to Annals of Education, and with 
the aid of his father and myself, and the promise of other occasional 
assistance, proceeded to act as its editor. This was in August, 1831. 
Later in the year he removed to Boston, whither he was soon fol- 
lowed by his associates. 

No pains or expense were spared by Mr. Woodbridge or his asso- 
ciates, to render the Annals the one thing needful to the friends of 
education, especially to teachers. During the first and second years 
of its existence, he developed, in a clear, careful, and faithful man- 
ner, the whole system of Fellenberg ; together with such other sys- 
tems of distinguished European educators as were meritorious, partic- 
ularly those of Pestalozzi at Yverdun, and Prof. Jacotot of Louvaiu ; 
while his associates and contributors furnished most of the other ar- 
ticles. Physical education and methods of instruction, whether prac- 
tical lessons, reviews, notices, &c., fell largely to the share of the 

Not only the Annals of Education, but the Juvenile Rambler, was 
started by Mr. Woodbridge, about the end of the year 1831, on his 
arrival at Boston. The last was a small weekly newspaper for chil- 


dren, designed not only for the f^imily, but for the school-roora, and 
even as a class-book for reading exercises. For a little while and 
in particular localities, it was exceedingly popular. A few large 
schools received it by hundreds ; and in one or two it became a sub- 
stitute for all other reading books. But it was not very long lived. 
Its editors, — who had charge of it practically, — found their duties 
too arduous, and withal so poorly rewarded, that after the lapse of 
two years they were obliged to abandon it, and concentrate their in- 
fluence on the "Annals." 

It should also be remembered that during the first years of the 
"Annals," a weekly paper for teachers, entitled the Education Report- 
er was issued for a time, by Rev. Asa Rand. But this, too, proving 
unprofitable, and being supposed to conflict with the Annals, was at 
length purchased by Mr. Woodbridge, and after being published by 
him for some time, in an independent form, was merged in the monthly 

Besides, the original cost of the list of subscribers was a heavy bill 
of expense. For, though it was well received by the teachers of 
private seminaries and a few professional men, who respected the zeal, 
talent, and philanthropy of the editor, yet a large proportion of the 
teachers of the district schools regarded it as too high — or rather too 
learned for them ; besides they thought they could hardly spare three 
dollars a year of their scanty wages for twelve prosy numbers of a 
journal of education. The result was, therefore, that though every 
body praised the work, nearly every body excused themselves from 
taking it, especially those who most needed its assistance. 

But Mr. Woodbridge, did not shrink from the responsibilities he 
had incurred on account of the difficulties. He devoted himself to 
his task with all the energy which dyspepsia would permit, though 
at the end of every year deeply in debt. 

He continued the Annals to the close of 1836, when failing health 
compelled him to make a third voyage to Europe. He embarked in 
October, and for two years continued to act as foreign editor. After 
that time, except for an occasional contribution, the work was wholly 
in the hands of the writer. Mr. Woodbridge's pecuniary sacrifices 
for the Annals, during the six years and a half of its life, amounted 
to many thousand dollars. 

In November, 1832, he had married Miss Reed, an assistant 
in Miss Beecher's school at Hartford ; w^hose zeal for education was 
scarcely exceeded by his own, and who was an excellent helper to 
him in the cause. But her health was bad ; and after joining him 


in Europe, she died, at Frankfort, in 1840, leaving two cliildren, a 
son and daughter. 

Mr. Woodbridge's illness prevented him from making the educa- 
tional researches in Europe which he had designed ; and after spend- 
ing the winter of 1840-41 at Berlin, he returned home in October, 
1841. The next three winters he passed at Santa Cruz; but with 
steadily declining health. At his final return in 1844, it was evident 
that he was fast failing, and his business engagements were now made 
so as to provide for a speedy departure. lie made a short experi- 
ment of the water cure and homeopathy at Brattleboro, but with no 
rehef, his bodily powers being too low to rally ; and in returning 
to Boston, entered Dr. Durkee's institution, but gradually grew 
worse, and died there, in November, 1845. His last days, and his 
death, were peaceful ; though his feebleness prevented much conver- 
sation, and he scarcely said more to friends who visited him, than to 
remark that he supposed they met for the last time. 

Although the actual results of Mr. Woodbridge's labors have been 
great, yet in making an estimate of him and of his work, we shall 
find him entitled to the credit of doing very much, under very great 
discouragement, if not of accomplishing results in themselves, abso- 
lutely vast and astonishing. 

His mental powers were great. Both his intuitive perception of 
principles, and his faculty of methodically arranging facts, were rapid 
and thorough ; and his ability to give clear expositions of the rela- 
tions, bearings, and consequences of both, was remarkable. His 
moral endowments were, perhaps, still more eminent. His honesty, 
both in pecuniary matters, and in stating facts and searching authori- 
ties, was unbendingly rigid ; his father was accustomed to say that 
in " extra corrections," made to embody the latest or most accurate 
matter, on his geographies alone, he had expended a good estate. 
He was at once frugal almost to parsimony in his personal expenditures, 
and liberal to nobility in assisting the educational or other benevolent 
enterprises in which he was interested. Except a bare support for 
his aged father, and a still more slender one for himself and family, 
he was uniformly accustomed to devote to the perfecting of the An- 
nals of Education, irrespective of mere stipulations with subscribers, 
his whole income, from whatever source. 

His aspirations, indeed, both intellectual and moral, were of the 
very highest order. It was the incessant prostration of his eftbrts by 
the most wretched and irritating of all diseases, dyspepsia, probably 
complicated with scrofula, and certainly with great nervous weakness, 
which prevented him from realizing those aspirations, at least to a de- 



gree which would have phiced his name very high on the list of bene- 
factors to his race. Tliis physical incapacity was in part constitu- 
tional, and was doubtless aggravated by early ill training. And it 
was this which forced him to relinquish one plan after another, 
which rendered him often a severe sufferer from small self-indulgences, 
which made him irritable in conversation, and which, in connection 
with a constitutional diffidence, and yet an unsparing honesty in ex- 
pressing opinions when driven to do so, made him often seem posi- 
tive or even rude in receiving or opposing the views of others. 

He was always a poor man, and was too liberal in giving what 
came to his hand, to the objects of his life, ever to escape from the 
vexations and discomforts of poverty. 

Yet in spite of all he accomplished much. How much influence 
his labors had in producing those educational changes which have 
been taking place in this country ever since, is not easy to say; 
but undoubtedly a large share of what we deem educational im- 
provement, must be set to the credit of him and his associates. A 
writer of his obituary, in the " Express" of NewYork — the only no- 
tice of him we have ever seen — by one who well knew his whole 
history, thus speaks : 

" With his return from his first foreign travels, we may date the 
commencement of the operations for the improvement of common 
schools in this country. For though he had before aroused much in- 
terest in Baron Fellenberg's institution at Hofwyl, in Switzerland, by 
the publication of a series of letters written on the spot, and which 
contained almost every thing that our countrymen have ever read on 
that subject, no considerable attempt was made to produce any gene- 
ral cooperation for the benefit of common education, until he made 
known his plans and commenced his operations. 

" The American Annals of Education, which he conducted at Bos- 
ton for a series of years, under many difficulties, abounded in facts 
and suggestions of the soundest kind ; which were the groundwork 
as well as the exciting cause of the movements successfully made by 
the legislatures of different states, and the friends of education who 
gradually arose in all quarters of the country. The conventions of 
teachers and others, in counties and lai'ger districts, owed their plans 
and first impulses, in a great measure to Mr. Woodbridge, as did 
the innumerable lyceums and other popular literary societies. He 
was one of the first to foresee popular opportunities to act in Massa- 
chusetts for the advantageous distribution of the money appropriated 
to the schools, and the most energetic, in taking measures for that 
purpose. At every meeting held for the promotion of this favorito 


cause, he was personally present or represented by some valuable 
essay or other communication ; and most of the enlightened and lib- 
eral proposals offered, came from him or received his cordial support. 
He wrote the first letter on popular education in music, and excited 
and aided Messrs. Mason & Son to attempt the introduction of that 
important science and art on modern principles. It is needless to re- 
mark on the extent to which their example has since been followed. 

"Mr. Woodbridge moved the first resolution ever offered, recom- 
mending the study of the Bible as a classic. The first Literary Con- 
vention in jSTew York placed him at the head of a committee on that 
subject ; and he not only drew up, but gratuitously published and 
widely circulated the report, which embraces, in a most distinct and 
forcible manner the grand arguments in favor of that object, in a 
style which no man can read without admiration. No writer before 
or since has exceeded it ; and in all the discussions which have taken 
place, it would be difficult to discover any new thought or argu- 

While thus engaged, through years of ill health, and all the difla- 
ciilties and discouragements arising from very limited pecuniary 
means, Mr. Woodbridge not only found strength to perform numerous 
journeys, to carry on an extensive correspondence, to hold innumera- 
ble interviews with intelligent persons, and to devote money with a, 
liberal hand for the public benefit, but his heart and hand were ever 
open at the calls of ^philanthropy. Few men, it is believed, have ever 
been more noble in giving, in proportion to their means. 

He was as influential as any one man, in awakening and main- 
taining that interest in the dause of education generally, which arose 
in Massachusetts between the years 1830 and 1840. He was an effi- 
cient agent in drawing public attention to the necessity of normal 
schools. He was, if not the very first, one of the earliest writers in favor 
of the introduction of the studies of physiology and vocal music, into 
our schools. He drew from behind the counter of a country store, 
and introduced into the higher sphere in which he has done so great 
and useful a work, the celebrated Lowell Mason ; a service which 
alone would have made him a public benefactor. His letters in ex- 
planation of the systems and institutions of Fellenberg, besides being 
the first introduction, to America, of those men and their works and 
principles, are distinguished for clearness of style and completeness of 
analysis and exposition. 

KNh "PW lOh/f Sj^RTAIN. - t'/ill. 

^^;?^^^^_ X^J^,^_^ 


Walter Rogers Johnson was born in Leominster, Mass., in 
1794. His father, Luke Johnson, was a farmer of strong mind and 
decided character, and though but a youth at the breaking out of 
the Revoljition, bore an active part in the struggle. His mother 
was only daughter of Rev. John Rodgers, first minister of Leo- 
minister, whose descent is traced in a direct line from Rev. John 
Rogers, the martyr of Smithfield. 

Of these parents Walter was the only son, and the youngest of 
their three children. His mother died soon after his birth. He 
derived from his parents a robust physical constitution, intellectual 
vigor, and excellent moral endowments; and enjoyed through 
life, by hereditary right, the inestimable blessing of good health. 

He early manifested a fondness for learning and a taste for 
books ; and soon aspired to acquirements beyond the routine of 
the New England schools of the day. Of these, his assiduity 
soon enabled him to master the studies, and his local reputation 
for scholarship and manliness of character, procured him, 
while yet quite young, an invitation to teach a neighboring dis- 
trict school. While he fulfilled with punctuality the duties of his 
station, he lost no opportunity of making progress in his own 
studies, being stimulated by the prospect of securing by his own 
exertions the means of preparing for and pursuing the collegiate 
course which his father could not afford him. In 1814 he entered 
Groton Academy, completed his fitting for college within a year, 
and in 1815 entered Harvard University, as a freshman. 

Here he maintained an unblemished character and a high posi- 
tion in his class. Continuing his earnest pursuit after knowledge, 
he applied himself to several studies not in the college course, 
including botany, chemistry, and some foreign languages. Under 
the necessity of supporting himself, and determined not to incur 
any avoidable pecuniary oblifjations, he spent his vacations in 
teaching in district schools. He graduated in Harvard in 1819, 
and, could he have followe(f his own inclination, would have 
remained in Cambridge to study law. He was however obliged 
to resolve to teach during two or three years, and accepted an 


offer to become preceptor, as it was then called, of Framingham 

Here he remained a year, laboring energetically in his voca- 
tion, and devoting his leisure hours to the sedulous study of law 
and belles lettres, at the end of which period he accepted a pro- 
posal to take charge of a small classical school in Salem, intended 
to prepare gentlemen's sons for college or business. 

Mr. Johnson deeply appreciated and enjoyed the excellent soci- 
ety and rare literary advantages of his position at Salem, and he 
made good use of the improved opportunities which he found 
there for advancement in his knowledge of law, as also in science 
and general literature. He always considered intercourse with 
great minds a most powerful stimulus to his intellectual progress, 
and took great pleasure in his acquaintance with several eminent 
scientific men of Salem, including the venerable Nathaniel Bow- 
ditch. Under such influences, his predilections for the study of 
natural science received a new impulse, and he made large 
advances into its vast domains, subsequently the chief field of his 
labors and source of his reputation. 

He was a ready writer, and a frequent contributor to the jour- 
nals of the day, whose columns were always open to him. He 
occasionally wrote a sonnet or song, but most of his articles were 
of a grave and solid character. He excelled also in epistolary 
composition, and his letters were much valued by their recipients. 
His taste in literature was correct, and cultivated by study ; and 
having a clear, sonorous, and flexible voice, and an excellent elo- 
cution, he loved oratory, and was successful in it. He was often 
desired to speak in public, and the anniversary of the Fourth of 
July especially, seldom failed to call forth from him either an 
oration or a poem. 

Mr. Johnson had before this time become deeply interested in 
the cause of education, at large. It afforded, as he believed, the 
only sure foundation of a safe and prosperous republic; the only 
guarantee against poverty, crime, and anarchy. As this interest 
increased, he relaxed his attention to law, and bestowed more time 
upon an extended course of reading bearing upon the subject of 
education ; undertakmg to gather from the best works relating to 
it, from the time of Bacon to his own, whatever might with advan- 
tage be applied to the studies of Ajpnerican youth. The benefits 
derived from these investigations appeared in all the educational 
efforts of his after years, as teacher, essayist, lecturer, experimen- 
ter, and in preparation of text-books. 


He roinained in Salem but little more than a year, having been 
requested by the trustees of Germantovvn Academy, Penn., to 
become principal of that Institution, one of the most prominent in 
the state, originally endowed by it, and further enriched by private 
liberality. His acceptance of this offer was in part determined 
by a desire of more extended knowledge of the world ; for hitherto 
he had never been outside of his native state. 

The site of Germantovvn Academy was near the main street of 
Germantown, upon a lane leading away from it. The locality 
was salubrious and agreeable, and the buildings were sur- 
rounded by play-grounds and gardens, were substantial and 
respectable in appearance, sufficiently capacious, and included a 
library, philosophical and chemical apparatus, and comfortable 
dwellings for the principal and boarding scholars. Evidently 
nothing more was needed to make the institution equal to any in 
the middle or northern states in excellence or celebrity, except 
the appreciation of a liberal and vigorous system of instruction 
and discipline. A short time, however, sufficed to show Mr. 
Johnson, just come from the comparatively strict and thorough 
training of New England schools, that the public mind in 
Pennsylvania was far behind the age in the conception of what 
constituted a good education, and in appreciation of its value ; 
and that, at least in the interior, far greater importance was 
attached to the development of soil and of animals, than of the 
minds of the young 

Mr. Johnson was not long in perceiving that his principal field 
of labor here would be outside the walls of the Academy ; and 
that to accomplish anything creditable to himself, or largely bene- 
ficial to his pupils or the cause of education at large, it would be 
indispensable to arouse the attention, convince the reason, and 
secure the co-operation of the trustees of the institution, and also 
of parents and guardians. A prevailing laxity of parental disci- 
pline and apathy on the subject of education, were among the 
discouraging obstacles to be surmounted, requiring long and pa- 
tient effort, and for striving with which he had little taste or incli- 
nation. But hS also discovered that he could count upon the 
sympathy and intelligent co-operation of many liberal and culti- 
vated persons, both in attempts to introduce special improvements 
and in an endeavor to establish a common school system which 
should be commensurate with the wealth and influence of Penn- 

In view of the wide field of effort which thus opened before 


him, and of the manifest increase of the influence of his own 
wishes respecting the management of the seminary, lie yielded, 
after some hesitation, to the wishes of the trustees, and continued 
at the head of the Academy after the expiration of the year for 
which he at first engaged. Under his management, the reputa- 
tion and prosperity of the institution increased, and its classes 
were well filled. His own position became at the same time more 
pleasant, as he became better and more extensively known. His 
genial disposition found much to enjoy in the refined society to 
which he had access in Germantown and Philadelphia ; he was 
invited to the well known " Wistar parties;" and his fondness 
for literature and science found much gratification from intercourse 
with the many men of eminence in those departments whom he 
thus met. He also greatly enjoyed the privileges ofiered by the 
Academy of Natural Sciences, and the Philosophical Society. 

Giving up, at least for the present, and not without reluctance, 
his plan of returning to his native state and studying law at Cam- 
bridge, Mr. Johnson now turned his attention to the enterprise of 
educational reform in Pennsylvania, in co-operation with the com- 
pany of benevolent and energetic men who at that period set 
themselves to awaken the state from her indifference to the mental 
and moral condition and prospects of her youth. Devoting to this 
purpose whatever time could be spared from the duties of the 
•Academy, he traveled through the state in various directions, 
acquainting himself with the character, condition, and wants of 
the inhabitants, and gathering information and statistics; and 
visited Harrisburg to become personally familiar with the legisla- 
tors and rulers of the state. The results of these investigations 
he used at home, in elaborating those writings in the theory and 
practice of education and instruction, which he published monthly 
in the newspapers of that day, which attracted much notice and 
were widely read and widely influential. Their publication was 
commenced in ' The Commonwealth," at Harrisburg, in 1822 ; 
with a series of thirteen essays on education, which embodied his 
general opinions on common schools, and on the establishment of 
a system in Pennsylvania. Another series of fix essays on the 
same subject appeared in the Journal of the Franklin Institute, 
in 1823. 

Among the pamphlets issued by him in 1825, embracing the 
views which he had published originally in the columns of a news- 
paper, was that entitled " Observations on the Improvement of Sem- 
inaries of Learning in the United States, ^'C." in which he advo- 


cated tlie immediate establishment of " Schools for Teachers i " in 
this particular coinciding with the views put forth at the same 
time by Rev. Thomas H. Gallaudet in Connecticut, James G. 
Carter in Massachusetts, and President Lindsley in Tennessee. 

These inquiries and efTorts Mr. Johnson continued for a number 
of years, and had the satisfaction of believing that he had been 
an influential assistant in procuring the passage of the law of 
1834, which gave Pennsylvania a general system of public 
schools, and virtually proved the winning of the long contest with 
ignorance and prejudice. During the long series of years while 
this law may be said to have been maturing, not less than two 
hundred and twenty public acts on education had been passed by 
the legislature, but none of them, until this, was upon a basis broad 
and liberal enough to be satisfactory to the friends of education, 
or practical in its results. Much time and money had been 
spent in procuring this course of legislation, various isolated col- 
leges, academies, &c., had been benefited, and a number of acts 
had been passed to establish public schools exclusively for the 
poor ; a species of benefaction which that class, to its credit, was 
too independent to accept. 

In the autumn of 1323, feeling that his position and prospects 
justified the step, Mr. Johnson united himself in marriage with the 
eldest daughter of Dr. Loth. Donaldson, of Medfield, Mass., with 
whom he lived until his death, in unbroken happiness and affec-* 
tion. Upon bringing home his wife, he resumed his academical 
duties with undiminished ardor, and was now enabled to offer 
much greater advantages than before to such pupils as were placed 
in his family and under his entire supervision. 

Although faithful and successful in the labors of the position he 
had assumed, its numerous and often vexatious duties, and the 
unvarying routine of school duties, were not in harmony with Mr. 
Johnson's tastes, nor with his mental activity and love of positive 
progress in knowledge ; and accordingly, when after a time an 
opportunity was presented him to enter upon a course of labor 
requiring his favorite investigations and discussions in natural 
science, he gladly embraced it. This opportunity was ofl^ered by 
the Franklin Institute, then a young but vigorous and efficient 
organization, and about establivshing a High School, with an espe- 
cial design of affording the industrial classes cheap instruction in 
sciences and arts. The committee appointed to carry this design 
into execution, requested Mr. Johnson to lay out a system of 
instruction fbr the institution, which he did ; and being further 


invited to carry his own plans into operation under the auspices of 
the Institute, he resigned his place at Gernmntown and removed 
with his family to Philadelphia in 1826. - The ITifrh School was 
soon organized, and went into operation with a large class of 
pupils, with a comprehensive course of instruction, designed to 
prepare either for a collegiate course, professional studies, or busi- 
ness life. 

The monitorial systenn was introduced into the school, as eco- 
nomical and also as pre-eminently available, under the circum- 
stances, both for teachers and pupils. The third annual report, 
in describing the number of pupils and their studies, says, 
*' The High School is in complete operation witii its full comple- 
ment of three hundred and four. Of these three hundred study 
the English language, one hundred and fifty-three the French, 
one hundred and five the Latin, fifty-five Greek, forty-five Span- 
ish, twenty German, two hundred and forty geography, tiiree 
hundred elocution, two hundred and thirty-one linear drawing, 
and all arithmetic or some branch of mathematics." The system 
of Dr. Marsais was adopted in the study of foreign languages ; 
and manuals were prepared for Greek by Mr. Johnson, for Latin 
by Mr. Walker, and for French by Mr. Bolman, vvjiich were 
used with success. Having given much attention to Greek, Mr. 
Johnson believed it an error to teach it as a dead languajje, but 
that modern Greek was substantially the same as the Greek of 
the days of Homer, and a living language, and as such he taught 
it. In these views he was sustained by means of some of 'the 
most distinguished Greek sciiolars of our own country, and by 
some of the most intelligent native Greeks who have written on 
the subject. Mr. Johnson found that his system gave his pupils a 
taste and fondness for a language generally esteemed a most difii- 
cult and discouraging one ; and in the short period during which 
they were under his instruction, many of them became able to 
read with ease, intelligence and propriety, the poetry of Sophocles 
and of Homer. 

The school fully answered the design of its founders, aflx)rding 
at the low price of twenty-eight dollars a year, instruction in all 
studies which it could ordinarily be desired to follow, and enabling 
those of narrow means to acquire an education of a grade before 
attainable only by the wealthy. Encouraged by this success, the 
Institute proceeded to enlarge their means of diffusing knowledge 
by establishing professorships in several branches of science and 
art, the incumbents of which were to prepare and deliver an 


annual course of lectures before the members of the Institute and 
their families. Mr. Johnson was appointed to the chair of mechan- 
ics and natural philosophy — a department for which he was pecul- 
iarly fitted, and which had always been a favorite witii him. It 
was therefore with the zeal both of duty and pleasure that he 
entered upon investigations in which he took the utmost delight, 
but which he had never before been able to pursue far without 
infringing upon the time and strength due to his regular employ- 
ments. With the purpose both of increasing tiie interest and 
usefulness of his lectures, and of providing for himself the means 
of experiment, he provided an extensive mechanical and philo- 
sophical apparatus. The classes included both sexes, and many 
adults, and were numerous and uniformly interested and attentive 
during the many succeeding seasons when his lectures were given. 

Although actively engaged in the educational department of the 
Franklin Institute, Mr. Johnson was always ready to co-operate in 
promoting its general objects through other channels. He con- 
tributed to their Journal, took part in their deliberative and c5on. 
versational meetings, engaged in its discussions of questions of 
practical science, and prosecuted with reference to it, either alone 
or with others, in elaborate researches on subjects of great impor- 
tance to the arts and to mankind. Nor were his labors limited to 
the objects of the Institute. The Academy of Natural Sciences 
of Philadelphia had elected him a member soon after his removal 
to the city, and he took a place among its working men of science, 
and was in the habit of contributing to its collection, especially 
such minerals and fossils as he could gather during his journeys 
or geological explorations in the state. He was a constant attend- 
ant at their weekly meetings, and frequently presided at them, and 
was for some time corresponding secretary. Papers by him are 
also numerously scattered through their published proceedings, 
for the many years of his residence in Philadelphia. It is 
scarcely necessary to add that his personal and social relations to 
his contemporaries of the Institute and the Academy were invari. 
ably most pleasant. 

Mr. Johnson's official connection with the Franklin Institute 
continued for more than ten years. At the end of that time the 
High School, rendered superfluous by the adoption of a general 
school system, was given up, though the lectures were continued. 
During the whole period, besides discharging his official duties, 
Mr. Johnson was actively engaged in researches in physical 
science, often with a direct bearing on the arts and practical busi- 


ness ; and, it is believed, with no small result in contributions 1o 
the advancement of human knowledge. Many of his most impor- 
tant scientific papers, and several on education, were during the 
same period published in the scientific journals of the day. 

Mr. Johnson was not content with merely mastering all already 
known of any department to which his attention was turned, but 
was accustomed to devote uncommon powers of patient investiga- 
tion, careful analysis, and logical deduction, to the endeavor to 
discover new facts or to establish new principles. He possessed 
great quickness in comprehending even the most complicated 
mechanical devices, and suffered no new machine which came 
under his observation to escape the thorough understanding of its 
operations and uses. This aptitude was of singular advantage 
to him in the many elaborate investigations in physics which he 
afterwards pursued, in devising new apparatus or combinations of 

Among the earliest and most important of these investigations 
was a series of experiments to determine the strength of materi- 
als, and the best construction of steam boilers. These were set 
on foot by the Franklin Institute, about the year 1830, and origin- 
ated in a benevolent desire to prevent the misery arising from the 
frequency of steamboat explosions. The Institute appointed a 
committee of seventeen to carry out a systematic examination of 
the whole subject, whose operations resulted in a wide course of 
investigation, occupying many of the best scientific minds of the 
country for several years. A sub-committee of three, Mr. John- 
son, Mr. Reeves, and Prof. Bache, was entrusted with that branch 
of the inquiry relating to the strength of materials. They sent 
circulars throughout the United States and abroad, requesting 
facts on the subject, and materials used in the manufacture of 
steam-boilers, to be submitted to scientific tests. The answers 
received showed a deep and general interest in the subject ; and 
in a few months the committee were in possession of abundant 
facts for the further prosecution of their inquiries. The Secretary 
of the Navy, appreciating the importance of these researches, 
recommended their extension, and furnished the funds necessary 
for incidental expenses. 

This branch of the inquiry was regarded as of paramount 
importance, and the committee applied themselves to it with cor- 
responding zeal, devoting to it all the time which they could save 
from their ordinary occupations, for three or four years. Their 
report appeared in 1837, in 280 octavo pnges, and included a 


minute detail of all their experiments, verified and illustrated by- 
tables and plates. 

While conducting these experiments, and others on steam, heat, 
electricity, magnetism, &c., Mr. Johnson observed many phenom- 
ena suggestive of new physical laws ; which, after verification, 
if of practical utility, he was accustomed to publish in some Intel- 
ligible form. Of these discoveries, one of the most important 
was, that iron increases in strength, after being subjected to a pow- 
erful tension at an increased temperature, in the proportion of 
from 18 to 20 per cent., with a gain in length of from 6 to 8 
per cent. ; a law verified by numerous experiments. 

The importance of this discovery was regarded as great, espe- 
cially with reference to marine equipments, where, as in cables, 
&c., the utmost possible strength is required with the least weight. 
Having devised a mode for the practical application of his discov- 
ery, Mr. Johnson submitted his scheme to Judge Upshttr, then 
Secretary of the Navy, always of liberal sentiments in relation 
to scientific improvements, and who appreciated the value of this, 
so far as to direct a proving machine then about being furnished 
for the navy yard at Washington, to be constructed under Mr. 
Johnson's directions, in such a manner as to admit the application 
of his improvement to chain cables and to examine its feasibility. 
The result justified all that had been claimed for thermo-tension, 
but it was found that some modifications in the usual form of the 
links of chain tables would be necessary in order to admit its 
successful application to them. In a letter written about this time 
Mr. Johnson says, " The experiments on chains and bars of iron, 
hot and cold, are continued daily. I am making efTorts to intro- 
duce some improvements in the mode of fashioning the links of 
chains and their studs. The prejudice in regard to old habits 
has to be met by persevering eflbrts to prove incontestably the su- 
periority of the forms which I have proposed to substitute. Every 
step which I take batters down some obstinaie prejudice and 
opens an easier and easier path to the success of my proposals. In 
the form of the studs and cross-stays of links, I have already 
effected a change, and as I have four or five times in succession 
proved that the new form of link is itself stronger and more endur- 
ing than the old one, I have little doubt that it will also gain the 

These experiments were never completed. They were at first 
discontinued in obedience to an order from the department to sus- 
pend all operations under the head of general increase, and subse- 


quent imperative duties elsewhere, and changes of administration, 
prevented them from being resumed. 

In the summer of 1836, Mr. Johnson quitted for a time the 
arduous occupations of the laboratory, the lecture room, and the 
study, for a more genial and healthful sphere of inquiry among 
the minerals and fjssils of the coal formations of the Alleghany 
mountains, and of the region of the west branch of the Susque- 

In geology, comparatively a new science, and in its related 
pursuits, Mr. Johnson's attainments had hitherto been bounded by 
what was already known. He now, however, proposed to himself 
the pleasant task of independent investigation, with the hope of 
liimself adding something to the extent of human knowledge. 
Having already made many investigations on the special depart- 
ment of the properties of iron and coal, he felt peculiar interest 
in studying their features in their native forms and localities. On 
this and subsequent occasions, indeed, he visited most of the coal 
fields of any note, of our own country, of Nova Scotia, and of 
Wales and some other parts of Europe. He also examined 
extensively the iron districts, studying the different ores and their 
localities, and collecting samples for future analysis. Some of 
these explorations were professional, for the benefit of mining 
companies, or to determine the value of lands ; but an ultimate 
motive in all of them was the attainment of knowledge and the 
advancement of science; and their results were not only pub- 
lished in official reports to the companies interested, but were also 
the basis of many scientific papers which were afterwards pub- 
lished from time to time as occasion served. Durins: these same 
explorations, no opportunity was neglected of collecting minerals, 
fossils, and curious or interesting relics and materials of whatever 
kind, relating to the natural history of the regions traversed. On 
one occasion, while ascending the Sinnemahoning in a skiff, he 
observed, high up an overhanging sandstone cliff, some rude 
attempts at engraving. With much labor and difficulty he had 
them detached, and upon examination found them to constitute a 
rude map of the course of that river and the country near it, and 
the animals found in the valley. He had it cut down to a manage- 
able size and sent to the Academy of Natural Sciences at Phila- 
delphia. The Pennsylvania Historical Society afterwards pub- 
lished a fac simile and description of this curious specimen of 
aboriginal topography. 

In 1837, Mr. Johnson was appointed to take charge of the 


department of magnetism, electricity, and astronomy, in the 
United States Exploring Expedition, as originally organized ; a 
post which his love of knowledge and his desire of investigating 
a new field, induced him to accept, notwithstanding the long pros- 
pective absence from his home and family. He entered upon 
preparatory duties sometime before the departure of the expedi- 
tion, and occupied some months in verifying and testing the 
instruments to be under his care, in a temporary building erected 
for the purpose on Rittenhouse square, in Philadelphia, and with 
the aid of several naval officers, and of Profs. Walker and 

Relying on the faith of the government, Mr. Johnson resigned 
his professorship, in the Franklin Institute, for these preliminary 
labors, and was also obliged to make other sacrifices and prepara- 
tions. But after many months of active preparation, and many 
more of vexatious delay, these justifiable expectations were 
disappointed by the abandonment of the original plan, and the 
reduction of the fleet, outfit, and scientific corps, to an extent and 
grade every way inferior. The dignity and efficiency of the 
scientific corps, in particular, was so much curtailed that it was 
with disappointed hopes and lov/ered expectations that those who 
were retained, embarked on the voyage ; and it was with satisfac- 
tion rather than regret, that Mr. Johnson finally received notice 
from the Secretary of the Navy that his services would not be 
required ; and the satisfaction of his family, whose scientific 
ardor was naturally less vivid than his own, was still greater at 
his announcement that he would again resume his favorite home 

As the sphere of labor, and the demand for it, in the depart- 
ment of applied science was now constantly widening, from the 
wants of the increasing development of the mineral, agricultural, 
and industrial resources, and the general intelligence of the coun- 
try, Mr. Johnson experienced no lack of employment. Besides 
extensive geological explorations in various parts of the country, 
analyses of minerals, and writing the requisite reports, he had 
occasion to enter, as by a natural gradation, into a new field, that 
of organic chemistry. The Pennsylvania College at Gettysburg, 
having in 1839 organized a medical department in Philadelphia, 
Mr. Johnson received and accepted the appointment in it of Pro- 
fessor of Chemistry and Natural Philosophy. In preparing for 
the duties of this chair, he was required to investigate the import- 
ant and interesting relations between physiology, pathology, and 


animal chemistry, and to prepare them for lucid explanation to his 
class. This required laborious study and profound thought ; but 
the pursuit was one of fascinating interest to him, and his lectures 
were among the most popular of the whole course, eliciting the 
applause of the students and the approbation of the faculty. He 
retained this position for four years, at the end of which time he 
resigned it, to devote his undivided attention to scientific investiga- 
tions requiring his presence elsewhere. 

The practical knowledge which long experience had given him 
in relation to coal and iron, had led him to the opinion that they 
were the two most important productions of the country, both 
politically and economically ; and that the extensive and rapidly 
increasing use of coal, especially in commerce, navigation, and 
manufacturing, demanded a thorough scientific investigation of 
the properties of all its varieties, for the ascertainment of their 
absolute and relative values, in generating steam, producing heat, 
and for other purposes. Under the conviction that such knowl- 
edge was attainable, and that it was a desideratum of especial 
value to the navy. Prof. Johnson addressed Secretary Upshur, 
with the view of obtaining the authority of Congress to institute 
the requisite experiments. The Secretary accordingly recom- 
mended the measure ; in 1841 a bill was passed authorizing him 
to appropriate the necessary funds, and Prof. Johnson was author- 
ized to commence the work. The preliminary steps Avere at 
once taken, and the navy department invited coal dealers to fur- 
nish specimens of varieties of coal for experiment. 

The preparation of the necessary apparatus delayed the com- 
mencement of actual operations until the fall of 1842. The work 
was still for some reason suspended until 1843, when it was re- 
commenced and industriously continued to a close in November. 
Forty-one samples were tested, and sixty tons of coal consumed 
in the experiments. A preliminary report was soon issued, giving 
a general account of the proceedings, for the satisfaction of the 
numerous inquirers on the subject. A final report however 
remained to be prepared, to embody in a systematised form the 
great mass of notes, observation, and analyses which had been 
accumulated, and to make it available for practical purposes. 
This was completed and issued by Congress in 1844, and consti- 
tuted an octavo volume of 600 pages. 

This report commanded universal approbation for profound and 
laborious research, accuracy, and extent of information. Prof. 
Johnson, however, considered it only the beginning of the much 


greater work which he contemplated ; namely, tlic continuance of 
his investigations until they should include all the varieties of 
coals fronn the principal coal fields of the United States, and from 
such others as in the progress of steam navigation we might have 
occasion to use, and thus to form a complete work worthy of our 
government, and commensurate with its deep interest in the 
development of our physical resources. But among the innumer- 
able objects of personal and political interest, and the changes of 
our officers of government, many objects of great public import- 
ance are often overlooked, and left to be neglected, or promoted 
by the care of private enterprise. Among others, the researches 
among American coals, so creditably begun, yet remain to be 
finished, although its plan and execution as far as completed, 
commanded universal approbation, and although petitions often 
repeated and from various sources were presented, urging Con- 
gress to continue the experiments until their advocates desisted, 
hopelessly discouraged. 

Meanwhile, the work, as far as it goes, has become a standard 
authority. The British Admiralty, in the similar course of exper- 
iments shortly afterwards instituted by them, adopted Prof. John- 
son's plan as the basis of their operations; and those in charge of 
the corresponding series of experiments in fuel under the Prussian 
government, not only adopted his plan of proceeding, but bore an 
honorable testimony to their obligations to its author, in the preface 
to their published report, and also in a private communication to 

About this period. Prof. Johnson was employed in various sci- 
entific researches connected with the Navy Department. He 
was member of a commission to investigate the subject of floating 
docks, and was engaged in examining various contrivances hv 
preventing steamboat explosions, the causes and prevention of the 
corrosion of sheathing copper, and several subjects of minor 
importance, demanding much laborious research, and the drafting 
of various reports, published by government on their respective 

In 1845, Prof. Johnson accepted from the city of Boston, an 
appointment, in connection with Mr. J. Jervis, the well known 
civil engineer, to examine and report on the sources from which 
a supply of pure water might be brought into that city ; this 
important question having been surrounded with great difficulties 
during several years, from the numerous and conflicting opinions 
and interests combined to influence or prevent a decision ; and it 


having been determined to employ two gentlemen of acknowl- 
edged competency in scientific attainments, and i^ree from local or 
personal interest or prepossession. The summer of 1845 was 
employed in this undertaking, and Prof. Johnson's share of the 
task was fulfilled with much satisfaction both to himself and to the 
public immediately interested. 

From some years after this time, Prof. Johnson was employed 
in labors of a more literary character. Pie prepared for Phila- 
delphia publishers, editions of some of the works of Moffat, 
Knapp, and Weisbach, adapting them to the wants of our own 
schools and students by emendations and notes of his own. 
During the same time, his pen, always actively employed, was 
engaged in various other writings, always having some relation 
to the advancement of science or to intellectual progress. 

About this period, also, he entered with zeal into the study of 
agricultural chemistry, and was among the first to awaken the 
minds of the farming population of this country to the importance 
and profit of the judicious practical application of the principles of 
chemistry to the processes of their occupation. He prepared a 
course of lectures on the subject, which were delivered in Phila- 
delphia and the neighboring cities to good audiences, attracting 
much attention from the novelty of the subject and the ability 
with which it was discussed. 

Always taking a deep interest in chemistry, geology, and their 
kindred studies, he was one of the first twenty who organized the 
American Association of Geologists at Philadelphia in 1840. 
After the enlargement of the sphere of effort of this body, by 
embracinfj all the natural sciences, and their re-orcjanization as 
the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in 
1848, he served as their first Secretary. 

Although for the greater part of his life devoted to pursuits of 
a scieniific character, Prof. Johnson was interested in all organiza- 
tions and enterprises for general improvement, whether political, 
philanthropical, or educational. While at college, he joined such 
societies as aimed at personal improvement or the laudable exer- 
cise of the social affections. He was a zealous and efficient 
mason, and rose through many grades of office in their organ iza- 
tion. He was an early and active member of the Peace Society, 
and of the Temperance organization. Indeed, he never allowed 
himself to fall under the dominion of any animal appetites; and 
finding himself becoming gradually more addicted to the use of 
tobacco, which he had learned to use at college, he discontinued its 



use entirely, and never resumed it. He maintained a strict 
temperance in all things, through life ; believing it essential both 
to bodily health and mental vigor. 

For mere party politics he had little taste, and never mingled 
in its contests, but thought and acted decidedly and vigorously on 
ail subjects affecting the public welfare. His efforts in the course 
of the movement for educational reform in Pennsylvania have 
already been adverted to. His opinions relative to education made 
him a willing member of organizations for promoting it, and a 
participant in their counsels and efforts, so far as his occupations 
and location permitted. He was a member of the National Insti- 
tute at Washington from its first organization, and while a resident 
there was an active member and constant attendant. With his 
fellow members, his social relations were most agreeable, to the 
end of his life ; and his last meeting with his friends around his 
own board was with them. He was honorary member of the 
Maryland Institute for the Promotion of the Mechanic Arts, and 
delivered courses of lectures before them for several successive 
years ; the first in 1849, and the last, which was also the last he 
ever delivered, in 1852. No similar effort, perhaps, ever called 
forth more universal approbation from its audience than did this. 
Its subject was "The Social and Industrial Relations of Man in 
Europe and America." 

He was always attentive to the calls of humanity, and a friend 
and helper to the poor and the oppressed, whether from Europe, 
or his fellow-countrymen, with voice, pen, and purse. An ardent 
lover of liberty, both civil and religious, while he held firmly and 
boldly to his own opinions, which approximated most nearly to 
those of the Unitarian denomination, he recognized the like 
freedom in all others, while abhorring all bigotry, cant, and hypoc- 

Finding his chief occupations centering in Washington, he 
removed thither with his family in 1848, still hoping that Congress 
would authorize the resumption and completion of his researches 
in American coals; continuing his own scientific researches, and 
transacting some business connected with mining, civil engineer, 
ing, and the procuring of patents. 

At the organization of the London Exhibition of the Industry of 
all nations in 1850, Prof. Johnson took a lively interest in the 
enterprise, and was among the first in this country to move in the 
promotion of it. He was appointed secretary of the central 


committee for the United States, and performed the duties of the 
office zealously and faithfully. 

He had for some time contemplated a visit to Europe ; and as 
no occasion seemed likely to occur more attractive than that of 
the opening of the World's Exhibition in 1851, he embarked for 
England with part of his family, and spent some eiglit months in 
visiting England, Wales, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and 
France, crowding every day and hour with a multitude of 
acquirements and observations treasured up for use in after years, 
had such been allowed him. He returned, gratified to the full 
extent of his expectations, both with the knowledge acquired and 
with the courtesy and kindness enjoyed in his brief intercourse 
with such men of science and learning as he met, and in the 
facilities given him for examining all objects of general or special 

In January, 1852, he was summoned to give evidence before 
the House of Representatives, upon the stability of the work in 
progress on the capitol extension ; a task which made it necessary 
for him to examine elaborately the qualities of tlie materials 
used and the mode of their arrangement. This occupied him 
several weeks, and was performed to the satisfaction of all parties. 

He had scarcely completed this work, and indeed was actually 
engaged in his laboratory in carrying out some further researches 
in relation to it, when he was suddenly attacked by the fatal 
malady which terminated his life in the brief period of six days, 
on the 26th of April, 1852. 

Although he had never labored with the primary purpose of 
accumulating wealth, he had usually been liberally paid for his 
professional exertions ; and his rule of moderate expenditure 
enabled him to live in respectable independence and generous 
hospitality, and to gather a comfortable provision against future 

The example of Prof. Johnson's life should encourage self- 
reliance. Almost from his mfancy he had earned his own living. 
He left no debt uncanceled, and never sought for patronage from 
the rich or the powerful. In reliance upon divine protection and 
aid, he put his own hands vigorously to the work he desired to do, 
and steady prosperity was the result. 


f,:ui: "-J. 



Wilbur Fisk, late president of Wesleyan University, Middletown, 
Connecticut, was born at Brattleborough, Vermont, August 31st, 1 '792. 
His parents were liighly intelligent and respectable, though not 
wealthy, and traced their pedigree to the early pilgrim stock He 
was, from early infancy, afflicted with scrofula, which laid the founda- 
tion for a peculiar cough, which troubled him through life. At a 
very early age he exhibited remarkable precocity of intellect and 
aptitude for learning. While yet young, his father removed to Lyn- 
don, Caledonia County, some forty miles south of the Canada line, 
then a new country. Here, amid the grandeur and beauty of moun- 
tain scenery, with a heart keenly alive to the glories of nature, young 
risk grew up, with bat few opportunities of education, except from 
parental teachings, till his sixteenth year. Up to this time he had 
had, as he himself states, not more than three years' schooling in all. 
His parents, however, were well qualified to teach him, and his fa- 
ther possessed a small but well-selected library, which, in his fondness 
for books, he read and re-read many times. He was not, therefore, 
behind other boys of his age in general education, and in many par- 
ticulars he was in advance of them. His ardor in the pursuit of 
knowledge was such that, when engaged in attending the lime-kilns, 
of which there were several on his father's farm, as well as when en- 
gaged in agricultural pursuits, he always kept his book with him, and 
this not a story or novel, but some text-book for study, and not 
unseldom did he become so much absorbed that the fire in the kiln 
had gone out long before he discovered it. When he was about 
seventeen years of age, his father, finding that he did not possess 
sufficient vigor of constitution for the arduous labor of a Vermont 
farmer, and that his thirst for knowledge was unquenchable, sent him, 
for three months, to the county grammar school at Peach am,* some 
twenty miles from Lyndon. Here he made up his previous deficien- 
cies in grammar and arithmetic. After his return home, he resumed 
his labor on the farm, studying, however, at all the intervals of toil, 

* For a narrative of the many and important services rendered by Dr. Fisk to the large and 
influential denomination of christians with which he was connected, other than the promo- 
tion of their institutiojis of learning, we must refer our readers to tlie able and extended me- 
moir of him bv Professor Iloldich. 


till the autumn of 1810, when he again attended the grammar 
school for six weeks, and then took charge of a district school for the 
winter. His ambition was now roused to obtain a collegiate educa- 
tion, but his father's circumstances were not such as would enable 
him to support his son through a college course. Wilbur was not, 
however, to be denied on this ground. He offered to support him- 
self through college by his own exertions ; and having, by much en- 
treaty, gained his father's permission, he commenced his Latin gram- 
mar in May, 1811, being then in his twentieth year. He fitted for 
college at Peacham, having among his classmates and intimate 
friends the Hon. Thaddeus Stevens, of Pennsylvania, and several oth- 
er men who have since highly distinguished themselves. In August, 
1812, just fifteen months from the time he commenced the study of 
Latin, he had fitted himself to enter the sophomore class of the Uni- 
versity of Vermont. He seems to have distinguished himself here 
as a writer and speaker, but Burlington having become, in 1813, the 
head-quarters of the army, in the war with Great Britain, the college 
buildings were wanted for barracks, and the classes were broken up. 
After spending nearly a year at home, young Fisk entered the junior 
class of Brown University, in the summer of 1814. Here he won 
high reputation for the brilliancy and variety of his talents ; in every 
study he ranked high, but exhibited a special fondness for belles-let- 
tres. As an orator or a debater he had no equal in college. His ex- 
temporaneous powers were of a very high order. In addition to 
maintaining his position in his class, he found time for considerable 
reading, and the authors he read were such as made their impress 
upon his after life, and his style as a writer. Burke, Addison, Shaks- 
peare, Johnson, Milton, Young, Beattie, and Scott, were the authors 
with whom he became most familiar ; and a taste for legal study led 
him also to make himself acquainted with Vattel, Burlamaqui, and 
other expounders of international law. He was graduated in August, 
1815, having one of the highest appointments in his class. 

Having received his degree, and returned home, the next question 
to be determined was, what profession he should pursue. His parents 
were anxious that he should enter the ministry, but to this he was, 
for several reasons, averse, though strongly impelled to it by the con- 
victions of duty. He finally commenced the study of law in the 
office of Hon. Isaac Fletcher, at Lyndon, and devoted all his energies 
to the attainment of a thorough knowledge of its great principles. 
He was still ill at ease, however, and dissatisfied with himself; and 
being, moreover, considerably in debt, he availed himself of a liberal 
offer, obtained through President Messer, of Brown University, to 


become private tutor in the family of Colonel Ridgeley, near Balti- 
more. He did not, however, abandon the study of law, but contin- 
ued it at his intervals of leisure. The large and well-selected library 
of Colonel Ridgeley, also afforded him opportunities for intellectual 
improvement. In the midst of these advantages, however, his health 
became seriously impaired. His lungs, always irritable, had been 
twice seriously affected while in college, and in March, ISlY, he had 
a third attack, accompanied with alarming hemorrhage. His physi- 
cians recommended his return to his native climate, and in May he 
attempted the journey, but at Burlington was again prostrated by 
hemorrhage, and for some time little hope was entertained of his re- 
covery. At length his symptoms became more favorable, and in June 
he reached home, though in a very feeble state. A revival, then in pro- 
gress in Lyndon, was the means of deepening and intensifying his relig- 
ious convictions; and, with returning health, he came to the decision to 
devote himself to the work of the ministry, and in connection with the 
Methodist church. The step was one requiring no ordinary courage 
and self-denial. That denomination, now so large and influential, and 
so active in the promotion of education, had then very few educated 
ministers in its ranks, and its membership, though active, devoted, 
and pious, were not generally composed of the more intelligent classes 
of society. Mr. Fisk, on the other hand, was an accomplished schol- 
ar, of refined tastes, and studious habits ; he had already attained 
some reputation as an eloquent speaker and writer, and was not natu- 
rally devoid of ambition. To bury his brilliant talents in the Meth- 
odist connection, his friends urged, was a sacrifice to which he was 
not called. The struggle was a severe one, but the sincere and con- 
scientious desire for usefulness, and that in the direction in which 
duty seemed to point, prevailed, and in March, 1818, he was licensed 
by the Quarterly Meeting Conference of Lyndon circuit, to preach. 
His first field of labor was Craftsbury circuit, some twenty-five or 
thirty miles from his father's residence. The succeeding year he was 
assigned to Charlestown, Mass., where he labored for two years with 
marked ability and success. His eloquence and earnestness attracted 
large congregations, and were the means of increasing the influence 
and strength of the society of which he was pastor. In the second 
year of his ministry at Charlestown, he was again prostrated by pul- 
monary hemorrhage, and for five months there seemed little hopes 
of his recovery. In May, 1821, he left Charlestown, and by slow 
and easy stages was conveyed to his father's house, which he reached 
in about a month. It was nearly a year from this time before he 
again ventured to preach, and then he was under the necessity of re- 


straining any considerable emotional expression, in order to avoid a 
recurrence of the hemorrhage. But entire rest from public speaking, 
and constant exercise in the saddle, had so far restored his health 
that he was again anxious to be at work. During this period of 
forced inaction, hi^ attention seems to have been specially turned to- 
ward the importance of establishing schools of high grade, and colleges, 
among the denomination with whom he had identified himself. The 
only academy at that time under the charge of the Xew England 
Conference, was one at Newmarket, New Hampshire, which had been 
founded some years previous, and had been dragging along a feeble 
and sickly existence since that time. Mr. Fisk, whose health did not 
yet admit of his taking a charge, was returned superannuated, and 
directed to do what he could toward raising funds for this Newmar- 
ket academy. This, however, he did not attempt ; but finding him- 
self, after some months, able to preach, supplied the place of a min- 
ister who was ill. On the 9th of June, 1823, he was married to Miss 
R. Peck, of Providence, Rhode Island, whose acquaintance he had 
formed while in college. At the next meeting of the New England 
Conference, the subject of the agency for the Newmarket academy 
was called up, and the inquiry niade, why the agent has not raised 
funds ? " Because," was his reply, " my conscience would not let 
me." Inquiry having been made into the cause of these conscien- 
tious scruples, and a change being suggested in the location of the 
academy, a committee, consisting of Mr. (afterward Bishop,) Hedding, 
Mr. Lindsey, and Mr. Fisk, were appointed, with authority to investi- 
gate the subject, and to adopt such measures as might be deemed ex- 
pedient or necessary. The result of the action of this committee 
was an entirely new organization of the school, and its removal to 
Wilbraham, Mass. 

For two years ensuing, Mr. Fisk acted as presiding elder over the 
Vermont district, a very laborious and, usually, a thankless post, since 
the necessary supervision over the ministers of the district, and the 
official report relative to the assignment of charges, very often gave 
real or fancied cause of offense ; but the winning manners, the ready 
tact, and the evident interest in the welfare of each minister, which 
Mr. Fisk manifested, caused him to become very popular in this try- 
ing position. 

The removal of the Newmarket academy to Wilbraham, Massachu- 
setts, had been effected mainly through Mr. Fisk's influence. The 
people of North Wilbraham had offered to erect suitable buildings 
there, and to use their influence to promote the prosperity of the 
school, if located among them. An act of incorporation was obUiiued 


from the legislature, in 1825, and the buildings commenced the same 
year. Amos Binney, Esq., of Boston, pledged $10,000 toward the 
enterprise, and Rev. John Lindsey was appointed agent to secure the 
remainder by subscription. In November, 1825, Mr. Fisk was elect- 
ed principal of the academy by the trustees, having a short time 
previously delivered the address at the opening. During the winter, 
as he was still presiding elder of the Vermont district, he did not re- 
move to Wilbraham, but left the academy under the charge of the 
assistant, Mr. jST. Dunn, spending, however, such time there as he could 
spare from his other engagements. In the spring of 1826, the Con- 
ference recognized Mr. Fisk as principal of the academy, and, in May, 
he removed to Wilbraham with his family. Here he found ample 
employment for every moment. " The school," says Prof Holdich, 
" was new, most of the persons concerned were inexperienced in their 
business, and the plan of the institution novel ; facts which excluded, 
in no small degree, the advantages of a division of labor. Mr. Fisk 
was chief director every where. AH looked up to him for counsel, — 
steward, teachers, and pupils. In addition, he had frequent calls 
abroad to preach, deliver addresses, and the like, besides conducting 
a very extended correspondence." 

During the earlier part of Mr. Fisk's term of service at Wilbra- 
ham, the institution labored under serious pecuniary embarrassment. 
At one time the indebtedness was so heavy and so pressing, that 
some of the trustees feared that they should be imprisoned for the 
debts of the seminary. From this incumbrance it was relieved by 
the determined and persevering efforts of Mr. Fisk and Mr. Lindsey. 
Yet, during the five years in which he was at the head of the institu- 
tion, his salary, owing to its limited income, was barely sufficient to 
defray his expenses, even with the most rigid economy. Yet, small 
as this pittance was, it did not prevent his laboring with all his pow- 
ers for the promotion of the interests of the seminary. He organized 
and taught a theological class in addition to his other duties, and for 
two years supplied the Methodist church in the village, that the trus- 
tees might have funds enough for the salaries of the other teachers. 
Meanwhile, his reputation was constantly increasing. Humble and 
laborious as were his duties, his mode of performing them was so at- 
tractive, and his talents so evidently superior to the })osition he occu- 
pied, that numerous efforts were made to induce him to accept a 
higher post. In 1826, he was appointed to preach the election ser- 
mon to the legislature of his native state, and, immediately after its 
delivery, was chosen chaplain to the legislature. In 1829, he re- 
ceived the appointment of preacher of the election sermon to the 


Massachusetts legislature. During liis residence at Wilbraham, he 
was offered the presidency of Vermont University, and of La Grange 
College ; was elected a professor in the University of Alabama, with 
a large salary and a prospect of the j^residency of the university; and 
was also chosen bishop of the Methodist church in Canada. Of mi- 
nor appointments, some of them with liberal salaries, there were not 
a few; but none of them could draw him from his favorite work as a 
teacher. The appointment of bishop, in Canada, the most laborious 
and least lucrative of the whole, was the only one he seriously consid- 
ered, and this he finally declined, though regretfully, from a convic- 
tion that the interests of the academy would be periled by his leav- 
ing it. In 1829, Mr. Fisk received the degree of D. D., from Augus- 
ta College, Kentucky, and in 1835, it was also conferred by his alma 
mater, Brown University. 

In addition to his other duties. Dr. Fisk, while at the head of the 
seminary at Wilbraham, was twice elected to the General Conference, 
the highest court of the Methodist church, and was a leading mem- 
ber of its most important committees, and an active debater and 
counselor in its discussions. As a member of the committee on edu- 
cation, he rendered great service in urging the necessity and import- 
ance of the estabhshment of schools of high grade throughout the 
connection, and the organization of colleges where they could be sus- 

Theological and reformatory controversies also occupied a consid- 
erable share of the age. The temperance movement was then com- 
mencing, and he entered into it with all the ardor of his nature ; and 
some of his sermons and addresses on this subject are, to this day, 
among the most effective temperance documents in circulation. 

Yet, amid these multifarious labors, he found time, or, rather, by his 
perfect system and order, he made time, to become one of the most 
accomplished teachers of his time. The seminary had opened with 
but seven scholars ; during the first term the number rose to thirty, 
and the next year to seventy-five. At the end of three years the 
number in attendance was between two and three hundred. To all 
these he was a friend in whom they could confide ; a parant on whose 
love and tenderness they could rely. He seldom used the rod, and 
the winning and affectionate manner he always manifested toward his 
pupils rendered its use almost unnecessary. Yet be never failed to 
maintain order and obedience in the schools. Like Dr. Arnold, he 
sought to inculcate a high standard of honor in his scholars, and few 
teachers have been able to rely with more certainty on the influence 
of moral principle in restraining and controlling their pupils. A lady. 



who was associated with him as a teacher at Wilbraham, writing to 
his widow after his decease says : " He bore all our burdens, and was 
consulted on every occasion. All matters were referred to him, mor- 
al, intellectual, or physical. No circumstance, however trifling it 
might appear, if connected with the interests of the institution, was 
beneath his notice." 

But the way was preparing for his entrance upon a higher and 
more extensive field of usefulness. He had toiled faithfully in his 
humble sphere, and now his opportunities for molding and influ- 
encing the moral character of the youth of the country were to be 
enlarged. We have already seen that, in his report as chairman of 
the committee on education at the General Conference, he had urged 
the establishment of two other colleges, to be under the patronage of 
the denomination. At that time (1828,) there were under the pat- 
ronage of the Methodist church in the United States, seven schools 
in successful operation, and three more in an incipient condition ; and 
there were also two colleges, viz., Augusta College, Kentucky, char- 
tered in 1822, and Madison College, at Uniontown, Pennsylvania, 
chartered in 1827. Two others had been attempted, and failed. 

As yet, however, the New York and New England Conferences had 
no institution of learning within their bounds, and as their member- 
ship was rapidly increasing, both in numbers and intelligence, the ne- 
cessity of a college for the education of their children, and especially 
for the training of those who contemplated entering the ministry, was 
beginning to be evident. 

In 1829, the buildings erected for the literary, scientific, and mili- 
tary academy, under Captain Partridge, at Middletown, Connecticut, 
became vacant. Overtures, at first made in jest, by the trustees, to 
some leading members of the Methodist church in Middletown, final- 
ly led to correspondence, to action on the part of the New York and 
New England Conferences, to overtures from other cities, and finally 
to the oftering, on the part of the trustees and stockholders of the 
military academy, of the entire property, valued at about 830,000, 
and to an additional subscription of $18,000, on the part of the citi- 
zens of Middletown. This liberal offer was accepted, the organization 
eff'ected, and the name of The Wcsleyan University agreed upon. 
A charter was granted by the legislature of Connecticut, in 1831, 
granting university privileges and immunities, and making provision 
for placing the institution, should it become desirable, under the di- 
rection of the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal church. 

In all these measures Dr. Fisk had taken an active part, incited 
not less by his zeal for the promotion of education generally, than by 


the desire to provide the means of such education for the sons of the 
Methodist clergy, very few of whom could now obtain it, on account 
of the expense. Another object on which his heart was set, was to 
initiate efficient measures for the thorough training of young men 
who might engage in the work of foreign missions, which were now 
beginning to occupy a large place in the hearts of the members of 
the Methodist church. 

At the first meeting of the Joint Board of Trustees and Visitors, 
August 24th, 1830, Dr. Fisk was elected president of the Wesleyan 
University. The appointment was not at all of his seeking ; he hesi- 
tated for some time about accepting it, and was, indeed, on the point 
of declining ; but, at last, convinced that it was a post of usefulness 
which he was called to occupy, he addressed the following letter to 
the Board, announcing his acceptance. 

To the Joint Board of Trustees and Visitors of the Wesleyan University, 
now in Session in Middletown, Connecticut. 
Gentlemen : — With a high sense of the confidence reposed in me by a majori- 
ty of your Board, in electing me president of your proposed university, I tender 
you my sincere and grateful ackuowledgrnents. I have a deep conviction of my 
own inability to perform the imporUmt and responsible duties connected with this 
appointment. In accordance, however, with the judgment of my friends, and in 
reliance upon tlie cordial and united aid of the Board, and of the colleagues 
which have been or may be appointed, and especially in an humble reliance upon 
Almighty God, without whose assistance the most gifted labor in vain, I will en- 
gage to the extent of my ability in the service of the Board, in the discharge of 
the duties assigned me, so soon as 1 can, in honor and justice, disengage myself 
from my present relation to another institution. W. Fisk. 

Dr. Fisk remained at AVilbraham till December, 1830. At the 
close of the autumn term, he delivered a farewell address, in which 
he reviewed the five years of his connection with the school. We 
subjoin a few paragraphs from this address, as exhibiting the spirit of 
the man and the progress of the institution. 

Five years of labor and anxiety have deeply enlisted and closely connected 
every feeling of my heart in its (the institution's,) behalf. Such have been the 
variety and extent of my labors, that, contrary to general experience with respect 
to past time, the period seems, upon the review, like half an age, instead of five 
years. But in this retrospect I have nothing to regret, with respect to my con- 
nection with the school, but my own imperfections and mistakes ; of these I have 
had an abundant share, and have needed the forbearance of the trustees and the 
charity of the public ; aside from these, the review is, on the whole, pleasant. 

My experience has been profitable. I have had an opportunity of taking many 
interesting lessons in studying the unsophisticated character of childhood and 
youth ; I have become more interested in the improvement of the rising genera- 
tion, aud have gained a fixed purpose of devoting to this work, in connection with 
my ministerial duties, the little I have of talent or influence, and the remainder 
of a feeble constitution and short life. 

I had rather have my name embalmed in the memory and affections of the 
rising generation, than to gather military honors in the field of battle, or civic 
wreaths in the senate house, or to have it emblazoned on the proudest escutch- 
eons of this world's glory. 

At the opening of this school we had seven scholars, since whieh time we have 
entered upon our books one thousand one hundred and fifty diiil-rent scholars. 



Of these, about thirty have entered the sacred ministry, a number are pursuing 
the study of law or physio, from twenty to thirty are now pursuing a college 
course, and from a hundred and thirty to a hundred and fifty have gone out of 
our seminary at different times as teachers. 

Dr. Fisk came to Middletown himself in December, 1830, but 
did not remove his family there till the ensuing spring. For several 
months he was engaged in efforts to raise funds for the endowment 
of the university. 

On the 2 1st September, 1831, the college was formally opened by pub- 
lic exercises. On this occasion Dr. Fisk delivered his inaugural address, 
in which he developed his views in regard to collegiate education. 
This address was published and widely circulated, and attracted much 
attention, from the vigor and originality of its positions. He pro- 
posed a different classification of students from that usually adopted ; 
dividing them, not into classes according to the length of standing, 
but into sections according to their advancement. The diploma was 
to be received whenever the candidate was prepared for it, without 
reference to the time spent in college. Students who had passed that 
period of life when the ancient languages could be pursued to the 
greatest advantage were allowed to take a special or partial course in 
science and English literature, and to receive a certificate, or modified 
diploma, testifying their attainments in the branches they had stud- 
ied. The study of ancient languages did not receive as high a com- 
parative rank as in some colleges. 

Here, as in Wilbraham, he found ample employment for every mo- 
ment. "x\ll called upon him for advice or other aid," says Professor 
Holdich, " and his supervision extended every where. He draughted 
rules for the university, and framed the regulations of the boarding 
department; he superintended the studies in the college, and the pe- 
cuniary arrangements of the prudential committee ; he heard classes 
recite in Greek, Latin, and metaphysics, and listened to the petty de- 
tails of the students' personal concerns ; and while he aided the pro- 
fessors in the higher regions of mind, he often came down to the ex- 
amination of the accounts of the institution in dollars and cents. 
He was remarkably fitted for this multiplicity of business, by his pe- 
culiar tact in management, his readiness and flexibility of mind, his 
knowledge of men, habits of order, and facility in executing his plans. 
He was never embarrassed, never out of temper. Skill in securing 
co-operation in his plans was one of his peculiar qualifications. All 
had confidence in his judgment, and, in most things, readily yielded 
to his views. His own mind seemed the center of light and influence, 
and its radiations illumined all who were about him." 

In 1831, in connection with Rev. W. C. Woodbridge, Rev. E. Rob- 


inson, and Rev\ Dr. Gallaudet, Prof. Woolsey, and Drs. Milner and 
Maclay, he was engaged in a correspondence with distinguished 
friends of education in England and this country, on the use of the 
Bible, both in the original and in its English version, as a classical 
text- book. 

The invitations to more lucrative fields of labor, which had been so 
frequent during his residence at Wilbraham, were still more numer- 
ous in his new position. Unsought by him, often regarded, indeed, in 
his humble estimate of his own powers, as far above his abilities, 
few men have had occasion to decline so many stations of honor and 
usefulness. But, waiving all other considerations, his convictions of 
his duty to the Wesleyau University forbade his leaving that post for 
any other, whatever might be its superiority in honot or emolument. 
Once and once only did he propose to resign the presidency of the 
university ; but it was to go on a mission to Liberia ; and so urgent 
were the friends of the college that he should not leave it, that he 
yielded to their wishes. 

The college meanwhile was making good and satisfactory progress 
under his care. The number of students had increased to a hun- 
dred ; and the standard of scholarship was equal to that of the other 
colleges of the northern states. In the government of the students. 
Dr. Fisk was remarkably successful. We often read, in catalogues or 
announcements of colleges and literary institutions of a high rank, 
that the government is strictly paternal. Yet, what judicious parent 
would institute, in his own family, the regulations and the strict sur- 
veillance which marks the government of many colleges ? It can be 
said to the honor of Dr. Fisk that he made his government strictly 
paternal. The young men looked up to him with the aflfection and 
confidence of children to a parent. He took an interest in their con- 
cerns ; if they erred he reproved them, but in a manner so tender and 
affectionate as to win them to penitence, not to harden them in crime. 
The number dismissed was remarkably small. The self-respect of 
the students was not wounded, and in time of trouble, sickness, or 
sorrow, they always found in him a warm and sympathizing friend. 

It was a favorite idea with Dr. Fisk to connect theological with col- 
legiate education in the case of those designing to enter upon minis- 
terial or missionary labor, and he was opposed to the organization of 
separate theological institutions, as contrary to the Methodist policy. 

Dr. Fisk's position and talents, not less than the earnestness and 
deep convictions of truth and duty which always actuated him, 
plunged him often into controversies, foreign to his genial nature, 
yet forced upon him by the circumstances in which he was placed. 


These, in connection with his official duties, and his almost constant 
labor as a preacher, impaired his health, and compelled him, in the 
autumn of 1835, to seek for rest and relaxation in a voyage to Eu- 
rope. He spent some fourteen months abroad ; and, though suffering 
a part of the time from severe illness, he visited most of the promi- 
nent educational institutions of England and the continent, and, ever 
mindful of the prosperity of his beloved university, collected large 
additions to its library, cabinet, and apparatus, and noted whatever 
he thought might improve his own instructions, or add to the effi- 
ciency of the college. 

During his absence in Europe, he was elected, by the General Con- 
ference, one of the bishops of the Methodist Episcopal church. This 
office he declined, in a letter so characteristic of the man in its mod- 
esty and self-sacrificing spirit, that we regret that our necessary restric- 
tion of this sketch to his educational career compels us to omit it. 

Refreshed and invigorated by the season of rest and relaxation he 
had enjoyed, Dr. Fisk returned to his labors with renewed zeal and 
energy. He published one or two articles on the relations of the 
conference seminaries and academies to the colleges, urging the ne- 
cessity of sending those students who were fitted for college to col- 
lege, instead of retaining them in the academies, with a view to their 
entering some of the higher classes, and thus often preventing their 
taking a college course at all, or, at least, their deriving full benefit 
from it. This led to considerable correspondence with the principals 
of these academies. On the question of distinct theological schools, 
too, his opinion was again solicited, and given. The writing out a 
narrative of his travels, and one or two controversies, engaged all his 
leisure from his professional duties. His attendance upon the gene- 
ral and local conferences, was a heavy addition to the labors of a life 
already too busy. The strength temporarily restored by his European 
tour, began to give signs of yielding again, amid the pressure of du- 
ties so onerous. He returned from the New England Conference, at 
Boston, in the summer of 1838, sorely jaded in body and spirit, but 
after a few days rest he was again at work as diligently as ever. An 
extract from a letter, written about this time to a graduate of the uni- 
versity, who had been elected to the presidency of a southern college, 
will explain, in some degree, the secret of his success in the manage- 
ment of literary institutions. 

I have another thought to suggest. You are aware, I presume, that southern 
colleges have suffered more from the officious interference of the trustees than 
from any other source. This is espeieally true of the state institutions. Wlien 
]\Ir. F. first wrote to me on the subject, I informed him I thought a man might 
be obtained who would suit them, provided they would permit him to have aeon- 
trolling voice in the organization of the faculty and in the internal arrangement of 
the school. The reply was, that they should certainly be willing to do that, pro- 


vided they had a man in whom they found they could confide. This is all we 
could expect. 

JSovv the perfection of management in a principal or president, is to manage 
with such prudence and judgment as to be able to secure the co-operation of the 
Board in currying out his plans. The truth is, a public institution will never flour- 
ish when the president is merely the instrument to carry out the details of the 
Board. The Board must be his instrument in carrying out kia plans. I speak, 
of course, with respect to the government, the course of study, the organ iz:ition 
of the faculty, &c. In money matters, of course, they are the legal organ. But 
even here the president must keep a good look-out, and assist in all matters of 
economy and finance, as far as he can. In short, the president must be the head 
and soul. A man that can not govern the faculty, the trustees, and the students, 
and all without seeming to aspire to rule, is hardly qualified for the place. Tliis 
he will always be able to do, if his plans are wise, and are executed with prudence 
and moderation. And although your youth, and your northern birth and educa- 
tion, may prevent you from speaking and acting with so great freedom at first, 
yet you will have a countervailing advantage in the fact of its being a new insti- 
tution, and of its coming into existence under your care. I would advise, then, 
that you get young men for your colleagues, so that you may mold them to your 
will ; that you have few regulations in the form of trustee statutes. Require 
them, if they are inclined to make laws (except what relates to terms, &c.,) to 
let you experiment a little at first, and find out what you need ; and, when you 
think you have gained their confidence, always evade, in the least offensive way 
possible, any interference of the Board in the government. 

The commencement of the first of August, 1838, was the last 
which Dr. Fisk ever attended. To perform its duties, taxed sadly his 
waning strength, and roused the fear in the hearts of many, a fear 
■which events justified, that he would not be able to participate in an- 
other. From a letter, addressed by him to Zion's Herald soon after, 
we learn that the whole number of students was one hundred and 
fifty-two, and that sixty entered the new class. 

Still intent upon occupying his time, though very feeble, he ad- 
dressed an appeal to the citizens of Connecticut in behalf of the Imi- 
versity, which aided materially in procuring for it, at the next session 
of the legislature, a grant of $10,000. He also commenced two 
works, one on Mental and Moral Philosophy, and another on the Phi- 
losophy of Theology. Though unable to stand more than a few min- 
utes, from weakness of his limbs, he preached three or four times, sit- 
ting in his chair, the last time being on the night of the new year. 
He also visited New York, on business relative to the Oregon and Li- 
beria missions, and, though extremely feeble, delivered an eloquent 
and thrilling address in behalf of the latter. In January he wrote a 
series of letters for the press, on Protestant missions in France, and com- 
menced a review, which he was unable to finish, of Dr. Bangs* " HistO" 
ry of the Methodist Church;'''' and, with all his old ardor, entered into 
the plans for the celebration of the centenary of Wesleyan Method- 
ism. But, with all the other objects which called for his attention, 
feeble as his health was, he did not forget or neglect the interests of 
the university. On the 14th of January, he was engaged nearly all 
day in sketching a plan for the new boarding hall ; and, though suffer- 
ing almost constantly from obstructed respiration, he visited, so late 


as the 30th of January, a graduate, who was lying ill two or three 
miles distant. On the 5th of February, he dispatched thirty letters, 
all relating to the affairs of the college. This was his last labor. 
He was evidently sinking rapidly, and a consultation of physicians, 
held on the 8th of that month, gave a decision unfavorable to his re- 
covery, or his long continuance in life. From this time, and, indeed, 
for some weeks previous, he was a great sufterer. Owing to his diffi- 
culty of breathing, he was obliged to remain in a sitting or standing 
posture nearly the whole time ; and thus he became greatly wearied, 
whik the paroxysms of difficult respiration would often involve the 
most intense suffering ; yet amid it all he was ever patient, considerate 
of others, kind, and calm. For more than two weeks the spirit of the 
good man seemed pluming its wings for its departure, but the summons 
was delayed ; and, though able to speak but slowly, and with great pain 
and difficulty, he summoned to his dying chamber, in turn, the friends 
of the university, its faculty, and the students, and expressed his views 
and wishes, and, in the tenderest manner, bade each adieu. To the 
New York Conference he sent, by his friend. Dr. Bangs, the message : 
" I give it as my dying request, that they nurse the Wesleyan Uni- 
versity, that they must exert themselves to sustain and carry it for- 
ward." When the wandering of that noble intellect but too surely 
betokened that the final hour was approaching, his incoherent ex- 
pressions indicated that it was still the college which was the subject 
of his thoughts ; at one time he seemed to imagine himself arrang- 
ing a class ; at another, discussing some metaphysical point with his 
class. Thus was "the ruling passion strong in death." On the 
morning of the 22d of February, his spirit was at last released from 
the suffering and shattered body it had inhabited. 

His funeral was attended by a vast concourse, and his virtues and 
abilities eloquently portrayed by Rev. Dr. Means, of Emory College, 
Georgia, who delivered the funeral address. He was buried in tho 
college cemetery, where one of his fellow professors had preceded 
him. His age was forty-seven years and a half. A plain monument- 
al shaft marks the place of his repose, bearing on one side the simple 




and on the reverse the dates of his birth and death. 

Besides his travels, an octavo volume of seven hundred pages. Dr. 
Fisk published a very large number of essays, reviews, controversial 
pamphlets, sermons, and addresses ; some of which have been preserved 
ill more permanent form by the Methodist Book Concern. His edu- 
cational publications are all, however, it is believed, out of print. 


Extract from a letter, by Rev. Dr. Cooke, president of Lawrence 
University, at Appleton, Wisconsin, October, 1858. 

" To say that Dr. Fisk was a leading spirit in directing the educational efforts 
of his own denomination, or to say that he was an excellent president of a col- 
lege, is not to present him as an inventor or originator of any thing useful. He 
should stand before the world, as the originator and father of a distinct class of 
literary institutions, now so very useful and widely extended throughout the 
Eastern, Middle, and Western States ; I mean that grade of mixed schools, for the 
education of both sexes, generally known among the Methodists as " Semina- 
ries " — and which might with propriety be called. The Peoplt's Colleges. 

Prior to his time, there had existed two, and but two, classes of institutions of 
learning above the common school — the college and the old fashioned New Eng- 
land academy. The former, without exception, excluded females from the ad- 
vantages they afforded, and besides they were not suflBciently democratic to 
reach very effectually the masses of the people. Higher education was confined 
almost exclusively to the learned professions. The other class, with but few ex- 
ceptions, had sunk into a remarkable degree of inefBciency, and accomplished 
little more than to prepare a few boys for college. 

Discovering at once the wants, not only of its Methodist public, but of the 
people generally, early in his ministry, he commenced the work of establishing 
an institution that should be better adapted to the masses, and be open to both 
sexes. His first efforts in that direction were, 1 think, put forth at New Market 
N. H., but other portions of New England Methodists soon waking up to the 
importance of having literary institutions under the denominational control, 
Wilbraham, by a sort of compromise, was finally agreed upon as the more central 
location ; thus arose the first institution of its grade, with Dr. Fisk as its head. 

Under his skillful management, its experience proved sucessful beyond the 
expectations of friends ; and a few years only sufliccd to renew the experience 
at Readfield, Maine, and at Cazenovia and Lima, in the State of New York. 

Up to this period, the new movements to cheapen and popularize higher educa- 
tion to the masses, have been almost exclusively confined to, and directed by, 
the rising zeal of the Methodists; but other denominations soon saw the success 
attending these mixed higher seminaries, and were not slow to imitate, in this 
particular, the original leaders of this new enterprise. And now, under the 
various denominations, and bearing the public sanctions won by the marked suc- 
cess that has attended them, these institutions are scattered through not New 
England alone, but also the Middle, Western, and North-Western States. They 
are every where cheapening education, stirring up the people to its importance, 
and reaching the masses, wlio would otherwise have been entirely overlooked. 

Some of these institutions have an average attendance of five or six hundred 
pupils, have endowments and other facilities for imparting instruction scarcely 
inferior to many of our old and respectable colleges. 

We by no means claim for these institutions, that they have been the best 
for all purposes, or that they have in all cases, like Old Phillips' Academy and 
others that might be named — -par ndbile fratrum — ^imparted the most thorough 
classical training to their pupils ; but we do claim that they have specifically 
met the wants of the people as no others have, and that they are now accom- 
plishing the greatest good for the greatest number. 

For whatever of value this class of institutions has been, or shall be, to the 
cause of cheap and popular education, the world is indebted to the Methodists, 
who preceded other denominations by several years in their .successful manage- 
ment. To the lamented Dr. Fisk, especially, does the worid owe a debt of 
gratitude, not only as the founder of two of the most useful institutions of New 
England, but also as the originator of that class of seminaries, so deservedly 
popular, for the co-education of the sexes." 



On the fifth day of February, 1858, Mr. John Kingsbury withdrew 
from the charge of the " Young Ladies' High School," in Providence, 
estabhshed by him in 1828, and over which he had presided with 
signal success for precisely thirty years. The occasion, as was most 
fitting, was celebrated by a reunion of his pupils, both past and 
present, who assembled in the Chapel of Brown University, which 
was offered for the purpose by the corporation. Of the interesting ex- 
ercises which marked that occasion, we subjoin an account, and at the 
same time, we gladly seize the opportunity to present a brief outline 
of Mr. Kingsbury's career, not only as a teacher, but also as a citizen, 
and a man, in the community where he has so long resided. 

John Kingsbury was born at South Coventry, Connecticut, May 
26th, 1801. His father was a farmer in moderate circumstances, and 
the son was trained to agricultural labor, and worked on the paternal 
farm till he was twenty years of age. The education by which his 
boyhood was instructed and trained, was such as he could obtain by 
attending, during the winter months, the district school of his native 
town, till he was fifteen years of age, and then by becoming himself 
a teacher for four successive winters, in the same or in a neighboring 
town. In September, 1822, having now attained his majority, he 
entered Brown University, after such preparation in classical studies, 
as he was able to make during a brief period, under the instructions 
of Rev. Chauncey Booth, a worthy minister, at that time settled in 
South Coventry. The expenses of his college residence for four years, 
he was obliged to defray almost entirely by his own exertions, and 
this made it necessary that he should continue the practice of teach- 
ing during a part of each year, as he had done before entering col- 
lege. He, however, allowed nothing to repress his aspirations or di- 
minish his industry as a student, and at the college commencement 
in 1826, he graduated with the second honors in a class, which num- 
bered in its lists, with other distinguished names, those of George 
Burgess, now the bishop of the Episcopal church in Maine, and Ed- 
wards A. Park, the eminent Professor of Christian Theology at An- 

A few months before graduating, he had become associated with 
the late Mr. G. A. Dewitt, in the management of what was then the 


leading school in Providence, which had been established by that gen- 
tleman. He continued in this association with Mr. Dewitt, for nearly 
two years, when he commenced the " Young Ladies' High School," 
first as a department of the school with which he had before been 
connected, and afterwards as a separate and independent institution. 
It was commenced at the outset, as it has been always continued, 
purely as a private enterprise, with no patronage and with no guar- 
antees of support, save such as might be found in its own intrinsic 
merits and claims on the public estimation. But the history of the 
school, and the exposition of the principles by which it was managed, 
we leave to be given by its founder himself in the address which he 
delivered to his assembled pupils on the occasion to which we have 
referred, while we briefly sketch the other useful services with which 
his life has been filled. 

Though he had embarked thus early after leaving college, in an en- 
terprise which was destined to depend for its success almost entirely 
on his own unassisted labors, he was yet not unmindful of the duties 
which an educated man, whatever may be his calling, owes to the 
community in which he lives. The interests of general education, 
and of philanthropy and religion, early enlisted his active exertions, 
and we only record what we know to be the general verdict of his 
fellow citizens in Providence, when we say that few persons in that 
city, within the past thirty years, have rendered so eminent services 
to all these high interests of his fellow men. He united himself with 
the Richmond Street Congregational Church in Providence, and there 
became a teacher in the Sunday School at a period when such places 
of instruction were comparatively in their infancy. He also became 
a member of the Providence Franklin Society — an association for the 
study of science, especially of the sciences of nature, and was for 
many years its Secretary, and afterwards the keeper of its cabinet, 
and its President. 

The pupils whom he instructed in his school, belonged, for the 
most part, to the more affluent and cultivated classes of society, and 
the fidelity and care which his daily life as an instructor, constantly 
exemplified, inspired to an unusual degree the confidence of the com- 
munity. A multitude of those labors of various kinds, which in every 
considerable town, demand education and skill, executive ability and 
a knowledge of public opinion, were thus constantly devolved upon 
him. Many of these, he was, of course, compelled to decline ; but 
there were very many others which he performed with signal advant- 
age to the several interests — whether religious, social, or scientific — 
to which they pertained. He thus, to a degree that is seldom 


reached in the secluded and laborious profession of a teacher, became 
identified with most of the higher interests and institutions of the 
city in which his lot was cast. 

But in addition to all these comparatively private labors, which 
have often come to him in large proportion, he has also long been 
distinguished by his activity and good services in behalf of those 
wider agencies of beneficence which extend beyond the community 
ia which he lives. In the year 1830, the American Institute of In- 
struction was established — that well known Association of American 
Teachers, whose influence has contributed so largely to the elevation 
and improvement of our national education. Mr. Kingsbury was 
among its original founders, and has always been one of its most ac- 
tive and efficient oflicers. From 1830 to 1837 he was a councillor in 
its Board, from 1837 to 1855, he was one of its Vice-Presidents, and 
in 1855 was chosen President, and presided at its annual meetings in 
1856 and 1857, when he declined a re-election, and again accepted 
the subordinate post of Vice-President. 

In 1845, soon after the reorganization of the public schools 
of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Institute of Instruction was 
formed, for the purpose of elevating the professional character 
of teachers, and of securing the cooperation of all classes of the 
community in carrying into eflect the system of public instruc- 
tion which had then just been commenced in that State. Of this 
Association, Mr. Kingsbury, though at the head of a private school, 
whose interests were wholly aloof from the system in question, 
was one of the earliest originators, and held the office of President 
from 1845 to 1856, a period, during which it accomplished very im- 
portant results in behalf of the public education of that State. The 
aim of this Association was to remove prejudices, to diffuse informa- 
tion respecting common schools, and also to secure a general coopera- 
tion in their behalf. In promoting these several objects, as well as 
ii raising among the friends of education, the funds which were re- 
quired for the purpose, the greater part of the labor was always per- 
formed by the President. In resigning the office of Commissioner of 
Public Schools in 1849, Mr. Barnard expressed his obligations for the 
valuable cooperation he had received from the Institute, and particu- 
larly from the gentleman who had presided over it from its first organ- 
ization : "To the uniform personal kindness of Mr. Kingsbury^ to 
his sound, practical judgment in all matters relating to schools and 
education, to his prompt business habits, to his large spirit, to his 
punctual attendance, and valuable addresses in every meeting of the 
Institute which has been held out of the city, and to the pecuniary aid 


which his high character and influence in this community has enabled 
him to extend to the various plans which have been adopted by this 
department, he desired to bear this public testimony, and to make his 
grateful acknowledgements, both personal and oflBcial." 

Nor have his pubhc sympathies been by any means restricted to the 
interests with which he has always had a professional connection. 
In November, 1839, having long been connected with the Sunday 
School of the church to which he was attached, he commenced a 
Bible class for young men, as a branch of that school. That Bible 
class he has continued, uninterrupted by the other labors of his life, 
to the present time, — a period of nearly nineteen years, during which 
he has taught the lessons of the Bible to about four hundred young 
men who have been members of the class, and among them have 
been more than one hundred and fifty students of the University at 
which he received his education. In this connection, we may also 
mention that when, in 1851, a portion of the church* with which he 
was connected decided to form a new religious society, and erect a 
house of worship near their own places of residence, Mr. Kingsbury 
was placed at the head of the movement, and it was by his personal 
efforts that the greater part of the subscriptions was obtained, by 
which that important enterprise was accomplished, and the Central 
Congregational Church successfully established. A similar service he 
had already performed in behalf of the Young Men's Bible Society, 
of which he was for many years the President, and at two different 
periods, he provided the means and superintended the agency for sup- 
plying every destitute family in the State with the Word of God. 
He has also been, for nearly eight years, a corporate member of the 
American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, and is at the 
present time a Trustee of the Butler Hospital for the Insane, — an in- 
stitution which always makes no inconsiderable demand on the time 
and services of those who are charged with its management. 

In 1844, Mr. Kingsbury was chosen a member of the Board of 
Trustees of Brown University, and immediately became one of its ac- 
tive managers and guardians. In 1850, when a subscription to the 
amount of $125,000 was raised for its more comi:)lete endowment, he 
was placed upon the committee to whom the work was intrusted, and 
it was to his faithful and experienced services that the success of this 
enterprise was in no small degree to be ascribed. In 1853, he was 
raised to the Board of Fellows of the University, and at the same 
time was chosen Secretary of the corporation ; and in these offices he 
still continues to labor for the promotion of the interests of this vene- 
rable seat of learning. In token of the estimation in which his pub- 


lie services are held at the University, he received from its Fehows, 
in 1856, the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. 

It has often been said that a professional man is always a debtor 
to his profession, and the sketch which we have given, shows in what 
manner the gentleman to whom it relates has acknowledged and paid 
this debt to his profession. lie might have done it by the publication 
of text-books or by contributions to the science or the learning of 
the teacher's calling, or by smoothing the professional pathway of 
others, by the lessons of his own experience and endeavors. He has, 
however, chosen another mode, and has paid the debt due to his pro- 
fession by giving to it his most assiduous and life-long devotion ; and 
still more by linking his untiring labors with every beneficent agency 
and institution in the community to which he belongs. He has in 
this manner, done his part to exalt the profession of a teacher, and to 
illustrate its native affinities for whatever is pure and useful and of 
good report among men. 

But the period of thirty years during which he had presided over 
the school which he founded, was now drawing to a close, and he 
had long been instructing the daughters of those who were his earli- 
er pupils. It was the period to which he had always designed to 
restrict his active labors as an instructor, and he took the necessary 
steps to provide a successor* in the post which he had created, as well 
as occupied for so many years. No sooner, however, was it known 
that he was about to liberate himself from the daily toils and cares 
of his profession, than he was solicited by the friends of education in 
Rhode Island, to accept the office of Commissioner of Public Instruc- 
tion, then just made vacant by the resignation of Rev. Robert Allyn. 
Before he had been able, entirely, to close his labors as a teacher, he 
received from the governor of the State, a commission for the office 
in question. Upon the duties of that office he entered in October 
1857, bringing to them qualifications, such as a mature experience in 
the practical details of education, and a large acquaintance with its 
broadest and most comprehensive interests cannot fail to bestow. 

We have thus hastily sketched an outline of the course of profes- 
sional fidelity and success, and of public service and usefulness, which 
Mr. Kingsbury has, for thirty years, quietly and unostentatiously pur- 
sued in the community with which he has been identified. We now 
turn from the instructor to the school, and especially to the interesting 
occasion which closed his connection with it on the morning of the fifth 
day of February, 1858. The account of the exercises, for the greater 
part, we have taken from the reports that appeared in the Providence 

♦Mr. Amos Perry. 



It was to celebrate this retirement of Mr. Kingsbury from the charge 
of the school, that the ladies' both matrons and maidens — who had 
been his pupils, assembled on that day, with their friends, in the Chapel 
of the University. 

The occasion, though private in its nature, brought together a con- 
siderable company of the leading citizens of Providence, among whom 
we may mention the Governor of the State, the Mayor of the City, the 
President and several of the Professors of the University, and several 
clergymen of diflferent denominations. President Wayland occupied the 
chair, and Rev. Dr. Swain commenced the exercises with a prayer, after 
which the following lines, written by a recent member of the school, 
were sung by the assembly to the tune of Old Hundred : 

"A grateful band we come to-day, 
"Within these sacred walls to pay 
^ A parting tribute to our guide, 

Who led our steps to wisdom's tide. 

Here are the friends we loved of yore, 
With whom we studied earthly lore ; 
Who trod with us the paths of truth, 
In those light hearted days of youth. 

Gone from us now those sunny hours, 
Vanished like dew drops from the flowers; 
Passed like the mist from off the hill, 
Yet memory fond recalls them still. 

Within a generation's span, 
The union ends which then began ; 
Above, in heaven, oh, may there be, 
A union for eternity." 

Dr. Wayland then arose, and after a brief explanation of the origin 
and import of the scene before him, made in substance the following 
address : 

This occasion sufiBciently explains itself, yet I cannot refrain from of- 
fering a few additional words by way of personal testimony. To me 
this gathering possesses a peculiar interest, for I have known this institu- 
tion from its commencement, and have observed its progress to the pres- 
ent hour. It arose, as the sun frequently arises on the morning of a most 
brilliant day, amidst clouds and mist. The greater part of our citizens at 
that time looked at the attempt as very public spirited, but very chimeri- 
cal. Our population was but about one-third of its present number. It 
was seen that such schools as we needed could be sustained in Boston, 
New York and Philadelphia, but very few believed that we could sustain 
one in Providence. Mr. Kingsbury thought differently. He knew us 
better than we knew ourselves. He commenced his school in the full 
behef that any thing which deserves success, is as sure to succeed in 


Providence as anywhere in New England. The result justified his an- 
ticipations. His school was immediately filled, and for thirty years with- 
out any solicitation, without even an advertisement, it has always been 
full to overflowing. x\t many times the applicants waiting for admission 
were numerous enough to have established another such school. And 
this much has been achieved without pandering, for a moment, to the 
ephemeral fancies of the day, without an effort to please men or women, 
mothers or daughters, except by the faithful, able and impartial discharge 
of every duty. Mr. Kingsbury determined to have a ladies' school v/hich 
should be an honor to Providence, or he would have none at all. He has 
realized his idea, and the results are spread before the world. There is 
hardly a family amongst us, which, in some of its branches, does not ac- 
knowledge with gratitude the benefit of his instructions and personal in- 
fluence. You can hardly collect a company of intelligent young ladies 
in any part of this city, without finding that a large portion of them, I 
was going to say the most intelligent portion of them, were the pupils 
of this school. But its influence has not ended here. From almost every 
portion of our country, young ladies have resorted hither for instruction, 
and of those who were to the manor born, a large number have been 
allured away from us to become stars of the first magnitude in almost 
every city in the land. The mother of the Gracchi pointed to her 
sons as her jewels ; but I know no man among us who is so rich in this 
sort of jewelry as Mr. Kingsbury. Five hundred of his pupils look upon 
him with gratitude and veneration, and at this very moment are return- 
ing thanks to the man whose whole life has been so successfully de- 
voted to labors for their intellectual and moral improvement. 

But I may not stop here. Though you, ladies, have had so much, you 
have not had all of John Kingsbury. While he has thus labored for you, 
there has hardly been a benevolent effort undertaken in this city, which 
has not felt the benefit of his wise and disinterested efficiency. Whether 
a university was to be endowed, or a church to be established, or an 
association to be hfted out of difficulties, or a society of young men to be 
aided and directed in their labors to promote the cause of Christ, John 
Kingsbury was the man to do it ; and now before you had fairly let him 
go, the State has seized upon him, to carry forward the cause of educa- 
tion, and raise the schools of Rhode Island to a point of eminence not yet 
attained by any similar institutions in our land. Nihil tetigit quod non 
ornavit — quodnon mdijicavit. Such has been and is your honored instruc- 
tor, and we come here to unite with you to-day to testify to the appre- 
ciation in which he is held by all good men in the city of Providence. 

Mr. Kingsbury, being called upon by President Wayland, to give an 
account of the school, then narrated its history, and stated the principles 
on which it had been conducted, in the following interesting address : 

The task which I now assume, in giving the history of a school that 
has rested entirely on a single individual, and that individual myself, is 
one of extreme difficulty. The " quorum pars magna fui," must be too 
prominent not to expose me to censure. Yet relying on your kindness, 


I know of no other way but to proceed and use that Uttle, but offensive 
word, which may subject me to the charge of egotism. 

Just thirty-two years ago, I was sitting one evening in yonder college 
building, preparing for a morning recitation. A rap at the door, was 
followed by the entrance of a gentleman then well known in this com- 
munity, and still held in grateful remembrance by all who know how 
much he did to give a healthful impulse to the cause of popular educa- 
tion in this city. That gentleman was the late Mr. G. A. Dewitt. He 
came to propose that I should become an associate principal with him in 
the instruction of the Providence High School — an institution which he 
had organized and which shared largely in the esteem of the public. 
The proposition was accepted; and on the first day of April 182G, just 
five months before I was graduated at Brown University, I entered upon 
the duties of this engagement. In this school, which was conducted on 
the monitorial system and which became very large, I remained nearly 
two years. During this period numerous intimations were made to me 
that a smaller and more select school for young ladies, was very much 
needed. Propositions were made to me to commence such an one. But 
as a separate school could not be established, without injuring the gentle- 
man with whom I was associated, it was decided to make a separate depart- 
ment in the High School exclusively for young ladies, and hence the name 
" Young Ladies' High School." This name, it should be remembered, was 
not then used to designate the highest grade of Public Schools. Such was 
the origin of the school, whose thirtieth anniversary wc celebrate to-day. 

In the circular which was printed to announce the opening of this de- 
partment of the High School — the only advertisement of any kind ever 
sent forth to secure public attention — the following language was used to 
express the leading idea : " Our object in the establishment of this depart- 
ment, is, to afford young ladies such facilities for education, that they will 
be under less necessity of spending abroad the most important period of 
their lives ; a period in which a mother's judicious care is so necessary to 
the formation of character. In this undertaking, we look for support only 
among those, who wish their daughters to acquire a thorough education. 
No attempt will be made to gain the approbation of such as would prefer 
showy and superficial accomplishments, to a well regulated mind." 

It is hardly necessary to add that the enterprise was regarded as some- 
what chimerical, and that many were ready to predict that it would end in 
failure. How well it has succeeded, it is not for me to say. It is quite 
certain, that whatever measure of success may seem to others to have 
been secured, my own expectations and hopes have never been realized. 
No one knows so well as myself, what have been the defects of the school. 
Indeed every successive day has caused them to be more clearly revealed 
to me. Yet injustice to myself, I may say that I have struggled con- 
stantly to remedy these deficiencies ; and so far as they have remained 
to this hour, it has been owing rather to the want of ability on my part, 
than to the want of an intense desire to remove them. I am happy to 
believe that it is the just appreciation of this desire and effort to make a 


good school, which has resulted in the continued favor of this community 
to the present time. 

The number of scholars was at first limited to thirty-six ; but the ac- 
commodations allowing it, the number was soon increased to forty. Three 
more were added after the erection of the present building, and forty- 
three has been the fixed number ever since. No pressure of circum- 
stances has ever induced me to add a single one beyond the prescribed 
number, except when by some mistake or misapprehension a member of 
the school was upon the point of being excluded. In such a case, the 
individual has been received as a supernumerary and gratuitous scholar. 
At the end of six months, the complement of scholars was full. Since 
this period, there has always been a list of applications in advance of the 
full number, varying from twenty to sixty. When I decided to bring 
my connection with the school to a close, there were thirty-tico names on 
this list. The admissions for the whole period have been Jire hundred 
and j^fty -seven. Eighty of these have died, of whom forty were married. 
Two hundred and eighty-two have been married ; consequently two hun- 
dred and seventy-five remain single. It should be added, however, to 
prevent mistake, that a large part of these have scarcely yet reached a 
mature age. Eighty-one of the whole number have been named Mary, 
sixty-one Sarah or Sally, and fifty-one Elizabeth or Eliza. 

For the last ten years I have been instructing the second generation. 
No circumstance is more grateful to me than the fact that almost every 
individual of this class, old enough and sufliciently near to attend school, 
has become or has sought to become a member of the school. By no 
persons has there been more regret expressed at my withdrawal from the 
office of instructor, than by my former scholars who wish to commit 
their daughters to my care. 

To those who are familiar with public sentiment in regard to education 
now, but who know — except as a matter of history — little of the change 
which has taken place during the last thirty years, the establishment and 
successful operation of a school like this, may seem a very small afiair. 
Could we, however, place them at the beginning of this series of years 
and with them trace all the circumstances adverse to success, it would be 
much easier to make that impression which is so necessary to a perfect 
understanding of the subject. Allow me to give two or three illustra- 
tions for this purpose. At that period the range of studies in female 
education was very limited in comparison with that of the present. In 
addition to the elementary branches, a little of History, a smattering of 
French, and a few lessons in painting or embroidery, were thought to be 
sufficient for the education of girls. The study of the Latin Language, 
of Algebra, of Geometry, and of the higher English branches, was intro- 
duced into few schools out of the city of Boston, and it was thought 
visionary to attempt the study of them here. In fact it was hardly pos- 
sible to escape ridicule in making the experiment. Even the boys in the 
street were sometimes heard to say in derision, " there goes the man who 
is teaching the girls to learn Latin." I need not say how great a change 


has taken place in this respect. What was then thought to be extrava- 
gant and visionary is now a very common-place matter, and an approved 
and established fact. 

The subject of vacations will furnish another illustration. Thirty years 
ago, the public schools were allowed the Friday after each quarterly ex- 
amination. Thus the enormous amount of just four days in the year, in 
addition to the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving, was allowed for vaca- 
tion. Private schools generally had no vacation at all. Such was the 
state of public opinion that in the organization of this school, it was not 
deemed politic to take more than four weeks vacation at first, and this 
was thought by some persons to be an unwarrantable liberty. The same 
public opinion will not now be satisfied with less than eight weeks vaca- 
tion even in public schools. 

The terras for tuition in private schools will furnish still another illus- 
tration. Thirty years ago the price of tuition in the highest classical 
school in this city, was five dollars a quarter. I had the temerity to 
charge twelve and a half dollars for the same time, or fifty dollars a year ; 
and what is most marvellous, teachers were the most offended at the in- 
novation. They did not perceive that if the experiment proved success- 
ful, it would be a benefit to them ; and if unsuccessful it could do them 
no harm. Accordingly the teacher who felt himself most aggrieved by 
the extravagant price of tuition, could at the end of two years have as 
many scholars at ten dollars a quarter as he had previously taught at 
half that sum ; and thus was so much injured that his income was 
doubled. I have never tried to avoid injuring teachers in this way. 

It may be proper here to speak of the school-room and furniture. At 
the outset, it was deemed important to arrange and furnish the school- 
room in such a manner that the transition from well furnished homes to 
the place of study, should not present the wretched contrast which had 
been too common previous to that period. Frequently, a room set aside 
as unfit even for trade or for mechanical purposes, was selected and fitted 
up in the cheapest manner, as the place where the daughters of our richest 
and most respectable people were to be instructed. Therefore, in order 
to avoid this mistake, a building, which stood where the present one now 
stands, and which had been used as a school-room by the venerable Oliver 
Angell of this city, was procured, and entirely refitted for the purpose. 
The old desks and scats were removed, the walls were neatly papered, 
the whole floor was carpeted — a luxury until then unknown in this coun- 
try so far as I have been able to learn — and the room was furnished with 
desks covered with broadcloth, and with chairs instead of stiff" backed 
seats. Some very excellent people lifted up their hands in astonishment, 
and said that it was a pity to have so much money wasted ! That this 
furniture would need to be renewed so often that the expense could not be 
sustained ! The novelty of such a school-room attracted many visitors, 
not only from this city but from abroad. One gentleman from Kentucky, 
being in Hartford, came here solely to see it ; and it was not till the ex- 
ample was followed in many places, and when even our public schools 


had undergone a great change in this respect, that this room ceased to 
be an object of attraction. 

The old room, however, was low studded and badly ventilated. There- 
fore, at the end of twenty years, and in accordance with the increased 
knowledge of physiology and school architecture, the old building gave 
place to the present structure ; which for beauty, convenience, comfort 
and health, is supassed by few, if any, in the country. So great was the 
regard for the old building on the part of some of the earlier members 
of the school, that it was, out of deference to that regard, taken down 
and much of it burned, lest, if it should be removed, it might be occupied 
as a residence by some degraded specimens of humanity. As beautiful 
as the new room is, I have been told by some of the earlier scholars, that 
the effect on their minds is not so great as that which was produced by 
their first entrance into the old one. The present room, though a great 
improvement on the former one, is by no means so far in advance of the 
times as was the old. Indeed it would have been a needless extrava- 
gance to have made it so. And here it may be proper to say that the desks 
and chairs, which were thought to be an expenditure so extravagant and 
wasteful at the organization of the school, are still standing in the new 
building. After having been used thirty years, they are so good, that 
with proper care they may last many years longer. 

A punctual and regular attendance at school, I have deemed a very 
important element of success. As one of the means of accomplishing this 
end, a record of every minute's lateness and absence has been kept from 
the beginning ; and from this record it would be easy to shew every in- 
dividual the exact amount of her deficiency. But as the reading of this, 
would really " tell tales out of school," it shall be omitted on this occa- 
sion. Let me rather add that a very large number have manifested a 
praiseworthy zeal to keep their names free from any demerits. Some- 
times this may have been carried too far ; but probably the number who 
deserve any blame for their zeal in securing a perfect attendance, is very 
small. A large number have attended an entire year without a single 
mark for deficiency. And this may be considered quite an eJQTort, when 
it is said that all who were not in their seats, though they may have been 
within the door or half-way from the door to their seats, have been 
marked, at least one minute late. Several have attended two entire 
years — one three years and one quarter, and another four years, without 
a single mark of deficiency. This last individual was not late during the 
whole of a course of nearly six years ; nor absent during this period, with 
two exceptions — the one of five days, in her fifth school year, on account 
of the death of friends — the other, of ten days, near the close of her 
school, on account of her own sickness, by measles. 

This young lady is one of the second generation, and the case is espe- 
cially commended to the consideration of those who are inclined to sup- 
pose that all virtue and true worth belong to past generations. Since 
the commencement of the school, I have lost, at three different times, 

eleven weeks, and have been late one minute. But as I was within the 



door when the clock finished striking, and as it has been the custom to 
remit the demerit for one minute's lateness, if that has been the only 
mark against a scholar, I, therefore, take this, the only occasion which 
^'ill be presented to me, to ask for the removal of this one demerit. I 
will promise never to repeat the offense under similar circumstances. 
Shall it not be done ? 

The question has often been asked why, for many years, there have 
been no examinations or exhibitions in this school. This question may 
demand an answer. At the end of the first six months of its exist- 
ence, there was a brief examination and exhibition, which was limited to 
half a day. At the end of two years, a still more general and public one 
took place, in a hall which was capable of holding three hundred per- 
sons. The hall was filled to its utmost capacity. Afterwards, at intervals 
of two or three years, three classes of five members in each, were, at the 
time of leaving school, subjected to a critical examination for two or three 
days, before committees of intelligent gentlemen, who were specially in- 
vited to be present for this purpose, and who availed themselves of the 
opportunity given them, to take an active part in the examination. Tes- 
timonials expressing the results of these examinations were given by 
these several committees. That which was presented after the examina- 
tion of the first of these classes, is in the hand-writing of the distinguished 
gentleman who presides on this occasion, and I will ask Professor Lin- 
coln to read it. 

pBOviDENCE, Dec. 8th, 1831. 
Mr. John Kingsbury : — 

Sir : — The undersigned, who have, for the last three days, attended the exami- 
nation of the young ladies who liave completed the course of study pursued un- 
der your instruction in the Young Ladies' High School, would do injustice to the 
young ladies, and to yourself, as well as to themselves, if they did not communi- 
cate to you the impression which they have received from the exercises which it 
was their pleasure to witness. 

The class was examined in Arithmetic, Algebra, as far as affected quadratic 
equations, Plane Geometry, Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, the Philosophy of 
Natural History, General History, the History of the United States, Logic, the 
Philosophy of Rhetoric, Virgil's JEneid, Cicero's Orations, and English Com- 
position. We were informed that they had pursued also the study of Blair's 
Khetoric, Intellectual Philosophy, Watts on the Mind, Botany, Political Economy, 
Moral Philosophy, and Natural Theology. In these latter departments of science 
the time allotted for these exercises did not allow of our witnessing their pro- 

The examination was conducted, on your part, with the manifest desire of pre- 
senting to the committee a full and candid exhibition, both of the acquisitions of 
your pupils, and also of the modes of in.struction under which those acquisitions 
had been made. It was your wish that we should test their knowledge by any 
questions which we might wish to propose. Having frequently availed ourselves 
of this privilege, we feel a confidence in our opinions which could not otherwise 
have been attained. 

It is with great pleasure, that, under these circumstances, we me enabled to 
stale that the young ladies evinced a thorough, free, and familiar acquaintjince 
with every branch of science in which they were examined. It was also evident 
that they had so acquired knowledge as to expand and invigorate every power of 
the mind, thus accomplishing the highest object of education. And we particu- 
larly remarked that the thrilling desire to excel, by which they were animated, 
seemed unalloyed with the least appearance of rivalry ; and that the confidence 
in the certainty of their knowledge which their attainments justly conferred, was 



everywhere blended with that refined delicacy of character wliich forms iho 
liighest ornament of the female sex. 

In presenting you with this wholly unsolicited testimonial, we assure you that 
your success fully realizes our most sanguine expectations, and that we know of 
no situation whatever, in which our daughters could be placed under belter ad- 
vantages for moral and intellectual cultivation, than are enjoyed in your institution. 
Allow us to add that we believe you would render a valuable service to the 
cause of female education, by furnishing the public with an account of the mode 
of instruction which you have pursued with such signal success. 
. We are, Dear Sir, with sentiments of great respect, your obedient servants, 

F. Wayland, Wm. T. Grinnell, 
Z, Allen, Thos. T. Watkrman, 

Henry Edes, R. Elton. 

After the third and last of these examinations, feeling that the charac- 
ter of the school was suflSciently well known, and that there were many 
disadvantages attending the more or less public display arising from these 
occasions, I determined to throw open the school, at all times, to parents and 
friends of education, and to discontinue all regular public examinations. 

Upon no other subject has there been a greater diversity of opinion 
among teachers, than that of emulation. While there are some minds 
that will be incited to go forward by the mere love of what is 
right, it is not so with mankind generally. God, himself, in his gospel, 
has condescended to appeal to our hopes and fears, as well as to our love ; 
and I have not hesitated to suppose that we, hereby, may learn a useful 
lesson in adapting our instructions to the minds of the young. Though 
I have ever endeavored to place before them the highest motive, regard to 
the will of God, I have not hesitated, from the first to the last, to award, 
not prizes, but testimonials for excellence in every department of the 
school. These have been varied. Sometimes they have been graded 
lists of names posted up in the school-room, giving the relative rank of 
each scholar. At other times, they have been gold and silver medals, or 
books, or a simple vignette of the interior of the school-room. These 
have been the most effective for the longest period of time. I know that 
I can appeal to my beloved pupils now present, to bear me out in saying, 
that the desire to excel, however strong, has seldom, if ever, had a ten- 
dency to produce the ill will of one towards another, or to mar the sense 
of justice. There has never been a time when the judgment of the 
school in reference to true excellence in any particular individual has not 
been correct. The aggregate judgment has always been right. 

It may be thought that the topic of government is too delicate for dis- 
cussion on the present occasion ; and yet in its bearing on education, it 
is second to none. There is no other, in which, after all my endeavors, I 
have come so far short of my ideal. It has been my aim to have the gov- 
ernment as strictly parental as possible, and so to govern that the school 
might think that they were doing it all themselves. 

I have endeavored to govern as little as the case would allow ; yet re- 
garding an ungoverned school as necessarily a bad one, I have been com- 
pelled, sometimes, to pursue such a course as has seemed to some unnec- 
essarily rigid. In this respect, however, I am willing to appeal from the 
school girl to the woman. It gives me great pleasure to know that many 


have already changed their opinions, and learned to approve what, m 
their school days, they were inclined to condemn. There cannot be a 
clearer deduction from the teachings of the past, than that no school can 
exist any great length of time, without requiring some things which will 
be distasteful to the young, and which will clash with the current senti- 
ments of much of what is called good society. For though the tendency 
of such society is towards the largest liberty, yet this same society will 
not long tolerate a school which is conducted on this principle. 

But the time is passing, and I must not extend my remarks. Were I 
to sum up, in few words, the characteristics of the school, or rather what 
I have aimed to make these characteristics, a part of them would be the 
following : 

1. To have the moral sentiment of the school always right. 

2. To have the scholars feel that no excellence in intellectual attain- 
ments can atone for defects in moral character. 

3. To fonn exact habits, not only in study, but in every thing. 

4. To have all the arrangements of the school such as are adapted to 
educate woman. 

5. To educate the whole number well, rather than to elevate a few to 

6. To train them to happiness and usefulness by a harmonious cultiva- 
tion of all the powers of the mind, rather than to render them remarka- 
ble for genius or intellect. 

7. To make them intelligent and efficient without being prone to osten- 
tation or pretension. 

8. To make them feel that common sense is more valuable than litera- 
ry or scientific culture. 

9. To make elementary studies prominent throughout the whole course ; 
so that spelling — old-fashioned spelling — and the higher ancient classics 
have sometimes been contemporaneous studies. 

There are those who regard the school as a successful one. If it has 
been such as to justify this impression, some of the elements of that suc- 
cess, in addition to those already given, are the following ; all of them 
having reference to myself. 

1. Unremitting labor from the beginning to the present time. 

2. Never being so satisfied with past or present success as to indulge a 
tendency to inactivity. 

3. Beginning every term with the same strong desire to make some 
additional improvement, as I at first felt for success itself. 

4. Adopting every real improvement in education, whether it was de- 
manded by public sentiment or not. 

5. Rejecting every thing which did not approve itself to my judgment 
after examination and trial, though it might be demanded by pubhc senti- 

6. Never allowing the public to become better acquainted than mj^self 
with educational interests, especially such as related to the education of 
young ladies. 



7. Daily seeking the special aid of Heavenly wisdom and guidance. 

And now at the end of thirty years, I find myself but imperfectly sat- 
isfied with the result. Yet, as I look upon the long line of those, who 
have been members of the school, as I behold them adorning the stations 
of life allotted them by Divine Providence — whether or not I have been 
instrumental in any degree in preparing them for these stations — I am 
not unwilling to challenge the world to present a more intelligent, a more, 
efficient, a wiser or a nobler band of women. 

It has been well said, that though men die, institutions live. Though 
I leave the Young Ladies' High School to-day, the institution lives. May 
he who will assume the charge of it, meet with the same favor from this 
community, that I have received, and may the results which he shall pro- 
duce, be far more satisfactory both to himself and others, than those 
which have attended my labors. 

At the close of these remarks by Mr. Kingsbury, the following contri- 
butions from those who had been members of the school, were read to the 
audience by Professors Lincoln and Dunn, whose services in this respect, 
added much to the interest of the occasion. * * * 


Lowell Mason, who is identified with the advancement of musical ed- 
ucation in this country, was born in Medfield, Mass., January 8th, 1*792. 
He early manifested a great love for music, and sung, and played on 
various instruments, almost instinctively. In early youth, he com- 
menced teaching; for which, also, he manifested a strong inclination. 

At the age of twenty, he removed from Massachusetts to Savannah, 
Georgia, where, although engaged in other occupations, the teaching 
of music, and the conducting of choirs and musical associations, both 
vocal and instrumental, were leading objects of his attention. During 
his residence in Savannah, he became deeply interested in Sabbath 
School teaching, and was, for many years, the superintendent of a 
large school, — the only one at that time, in the city ; and in which 
all the different Christian denominations united. It was while en- 
gaged in this school, that he formed those habits of intercourse with 
children, which afterward proved so valuable, when teaching became 
the daily occupation of his life, in the wide sphere of musical 
instruction in our public schools. 

In 1821, the Boston Handel and Haydn Collection of Church Mu- 
sic, of which Dr. Mason was the sole editor, was first published ; and, 
a few years afterward, several gentlemen of Boston, who had been, 
for some time, engaged in efforts to introduce improvements in church 
music, — some of whom had become personally acquainted with Dr. 
Mason, and with the successful results of his musical labors, took 
measures to obtain his aid and direction in the execution of their 
plans. Proposals were accordingly made to him to remove to Boston, 
which were finally accepted ; and in the summer of 1827, he took up 
his residence in that city. 

Dr. Mason now commenced the extensive teaching of vocal music 
in classes, introducing, at once, that feature in musical teaching, which 
had been but little known before, but which he had successfully pur- 
sued in Savannah, the instruction of children ; training their voices 
especially to the performance of the alto part in choral music. These 
efforts were highly successful : they resulted in the awakening of a 



very general intercut in munical inntruction, and in preparini? (,!»« way 
for tlio forintttion of tlio lionton Aciulcmy of Munic, and for tlio 
introduction of mime into KchoolH, an an e^Jucational ntudy. 

Dr. MjiMon liad alr^fuly fMfal^lJHlKjd a r<?|>utalion m a nucc/'MkUd 
tcaclicr, \k)1]i of vocal an<l InHtriiincntai muMic, in which }u^ had no\r 
been cn^a^wl for nixtccn or (ini^hUmu yatirn, when an event oc<;urred, 
which not only changed liin whole manner of Usaching, but which led 
him U) a much wider and more cxjmprehenHive view of thenuhject of 
musical inntruction, than he h/i/i before ent<;rtair»ed, and Uj juMt/jr con- 
ceptioriH of the whole theory of t'AuatiUm, m renting on a rational 
and philoHophicttl bjinis. We r<:fi',r to the fju;t that he hm\ now [jq- 
i'/mia ac^iuaint^id, for the firnt time, with the principl<'« of inntriiction, 
SM developed by re*tHlozzi, which, although at flr«t with great reluct- 
ance, ho at length thoroughly embr^ice<], and ba», for nearly thirty 
ycar», constantly and faithfully adhered to, and happily and f*uc- 
eeiKfully illuKtrat^d. 

For thi* clearer light on the Hubjcct of edu'-ation, l>r, Mn»u>»i wsm 
indebte<l to the enlightencj^l z^jal, ttucjii^y, and permjverarKM', in ull edu- 
cational improvement*, of the hUi William (J. Wood bridge, ho ex- 
tensively known, not only an a geographer but ;ut tu\ educaU/r, wliow 
laborH, in U>th c^ipacitien, mark one of the prominent eraH of the his- 
tory of wJucation in the rjniU;d Htatew. Mr. Woodbridge, while in 
Germany and Bwitz^^rland, where he rcHided for wjveral years, with 
the view of becoming ac/|uaint^;d with tfje U^st methods of in»trui;tionf 
altftough like Pestalozzi, lut h;ul given little j>ersonal atU^ntion to the 
Hubjrxit of music, Ix^'carne, from his own ol>«i}rvation of its excijllcnt 
influence on the pupils of I'estalozzian s^dirioU in general, and esjKecially 
in the institution of Fellenl>^}rg, at Hofwyl, thoroughly c^>nvince4 
of its im[>ortance as a tmhool exercise and an educatiotial influence. 
He accordingly procured all the information in bi« power respecting 
itf and obtained the most approved text-booki of school or clasii 
voice-exercises and songs, as well as of elementary treatises on musical 
instruction. Among them; were the a/lmnable songs (j( Nligeli, and 
the treatise by M. T. I'feifl^er and II. <». Ntlgeli, published at I/Mpzig, 
1810, entithjd " GmmfjUldungHb;kre nach PnHtalozziHcJuin Grumlnii' 
iun^'' UTies^j WAs by Nfigeli arul others, which ha/1 Xh'mw prepared 
with particular refererice to the \f%\S!\\xvAUt influenc/j of w>ng in moral 
culture and the training of the uifiwliotm, Mr, Woodbridge not only 
place/1 in the hands of iJr. Mas<jn, but was at the trouble, himself, 
to translate them, in part, and to furnish such explanations and direc- 
tions as he ha/1 r(i(i(iivoA personally from Vfniffar, Nilgeli, Krttsl, 
FellenU^rg, Klibler, (Utr%Uu'h^ and otlicrs. 

To those who know, fr ^m their own experience, 1m>w dilficult it k 


for one who has, for many years, been successful as a teacher, and has, 
therefore, great confidence in some method of his own, to substitute 
for it that of another, to those who have observed the slow progress 
which has been made in the true art and science of teaching, notwith- 
standing the greatly increased attention which has been given to the 
subject of education, for the last quarter of a century,— to those who 
know that, even at this day, the principles of Colburn's Arithmetic, 
which were derived from Pestalozzi, are still rejected by many teachers, 
it will not seem surprising that it was, at iii-st, no easy thing to convince 
Dr. Mason that the new method was preferable to that of foregoing 
rules, signs, tables, and definitions, to be committed to memory from 
a printed tabular or book form, to which he had been so long accus- 
tomed, and in the use of which he had attained to such success. But 
the eftbrts of Mr. Woodbridge were untiring: they were persevered 
in with such a constancy, zeal, and good humor, that, at last, Dr. 
Mason consented to a proposed experiment of teaching a class, after 
the Pestalozzian manner, provided one could be found for the special 
purpose. Mr. Woodbridge and others who had become interested in 
the subject, succeeded in the formation of a large class, of about two 
hundred ladies and gentlemen, with the express view of bringing the 
new method to the test of experience. The lessons were carefully 
prepared, at first, with the assistance of Mr. Woodbridge, and were 
given by Dr. Mason, with a success vastly greater than had ever before 
attended any of his efforts. He was fully convinced of the practica- 
bility and the fitness of the new method, as a mode of instruction 
appealing to reason and common sense, not less than to theory and 
truth, on educational principles. The same mode of teaching he soon 
began to apply to juvenile classes, and with success corresponding to 
that in the adult class referred to above. 

In 1830, a lecture was given by Mr. Woodbridge, before the 
American Institute of Instruction, on " Vocal Music as a branch of 
Education," in the State House in Boston. Illustrations were given 
by a class of Dr. Mason's pupils. A wider and more important field 
of instruction was now opened, than had before been contemplated. 
Dr. Mason's juvenile classes, — which had already been taught gratuit- 
ously, for several years ; he furnishing not only the tuition but also 
the room, fuel, and all needful school apparatus, — now rapidly 
increased in numbers, to such extent that thousands of children, of 
both sexes, received more, or less instruction in singing, and in the 
knowledge of music. Tliese classes were taught on the afternoons of 
Wednesdays and Saturdays, so as to enable the children of the pub- 
lic schools to attend: two or three classes, sometimes numbering 


altogether, from one to five hundred children, were accustonaed to meet 
at successive hours on the same day. The first juvenile concerts fol- 
lowed. These were given by choirs of children, so numerous as to 
fill the galleries of the Bowdoin street church. 

Dr. Mason was now joined in these labors by Mr. George James 
Webb ; and here it is proper to observe that the whole amount 
received, as the proceeds of all the juvenile concerts, was given to 
some charity ; neither of the instructors receiving any pecuniary com- 
pensation whatever for their labors, until after the formation of the Bos- 
ton Academy of Music, which, in part, at least grew out of these efforts. 

The subject of music in schools was now taken up in good earnest, 
by some of the best educators and teachers of Boston ; and instruc- 
tion in singing was introduced, almost simultaneously, into the Mount 
Vernon School, (female,) under the Rev. Jacob Abbott, the Chauncy- 
Hall School, (male,) under Mr. G. F. Thayer, and the Monitorial 
School, (female,) under Mr. George W. Fowle. 

It would not be consistent with our present purpose to follow the 
progress and wider diffusion of musical instruction and its genial in- 
fluences, either on the character of education, or on the improving 
and extending taste for music in the community at large. We can 
merely glance at the auspicious establishment of the Boston Academy 
of Music, and the subsequent introduction of music, as a regular 
branch of instruction, in the public schools of Boston, whence it 
rapidly extended throughout New England and the Union. 

Under the patronage of the Boston Academy of Music, and under 
the immediate direction of Messrs. Mason and Webb, various meas- 
ures were taken for the improvement of musical education, by the 
formation of permanent classes, the association of church choirs, the 
establishment of lectures, the periodical appointment of concerts, 
schools for instrumental music, and the yet more extensive intro- 
duction of vocal music in public and private schools. 

We must not omit, in this connection, to state the fact that one of 
the very first regular Teachers' Institutes ever held in our country, 
was that held in Boston, in August, 1834, by the Academy, for " in- 
struction in the methods of teaching music." In this class, which 
was annually continued up to the year 1852, the Pestalozzian method 
of teaching vocal music in classes, was regularly explained and 
illustrated. Similar classes for teachers were soon established in 
various places ; and it is, perhaps, owing to this fact that Pestalozzian 
teaching came to be very extensively, though erroneously, regarded as 
merely a method of musical instruction, rather than one of universal 
application to all branches of study, in all stages of their progress. 


In 1837, Dr. Mason visited Europe, for the principal purpose of 
making himself personally acquainted with the best systems of teach- 
ing music in actual use abroad. In Paris, he found Wilhelm's method 
in use, and popular as taught in the schools of its author ; but this 
being based entirely on those principles which Dr. Mason had, some 
years before, reluctantly been compelled by his convictions to aban- 
don, and being merely a carefully prepared course of mechanical 
training, could lay no claim to his attention. In Wurtemberg and 
the northern parts of Switzerland, he becan>e acquainted with Kiibler, 
Gersbach, Fellenberg, and others; — Pestalozzi and Nageliwere no 
more. The three first named pursued, to greater or less extent, the 
inductive method ; and, from the observation of their modes of 
teaching, and from personal communication with them, he became 
more familiar with its practical application to music and to school 
studies generally. 

On his return from Europe, Dr. Mason had ample opportunities for 
carrying out the principles of inductive teaching, in extensive appli- 
cation to the instruction of his numerous classes ; and his methods 
may not unjustly be mentioned as more rigorously, exact and philo- 
sophically just than even those adopted in the schools abroad in which 
they were originally introduced. Pestalozzi himself, though fully 
convinced of the value of music, as a means of intellectual and 
moral training, was as little systematic in the practical and executive 
part of teaching as in other branches, and attempted nothing beyond 
a rudimental outline, suggestive rather than methodical, and designed 
to be carried out by others possessed of a more patient spirit of ap- 
plication, or of greater tact and skill. The suggestive views of Pes- 
talozzi, Dr. Mason has carried further, perhaps, than any other 
teacher has ever done ; and, through his exertions, the soundness and 
practicability of these views, not less than their theoretic truth, have 
been brought to the thorough test of daily experience in his teaching, 
which was gratuitously conducted, as an experiment, for one entire 
year, in one of the public schools of Boston, previous to its general 
introduction, under his personal direction, in these schools, and in the 
classes of the Academy. Another sphere of extensive experience of 
the benefits resulting from Dr. Mason's application of Pestalozzian 
principles to the processes of instruction, has been that of the 
Massachusetts Teachers' Institutes, which he has attended, as lecturer 
and instructor in music, from the commencement, under the direction 
of the Hon. Horace Mann, the first Secretary of the Massachusetts 
Board of Education, through the secretaryship, also, of the Rev. Dr. 
Sears, and, thus far, that of the present Secretary, the Hon. George S. 


Boutwell. In this form of teaching, Dr. Mason peculiarly excels. 
His long continued experience as a practical teacher, his rare tact in 
developing the vital principles of instruction in the simplest and 
happiest manner, his endless variety of illustrations, his indefatigable 
perseterance in tracking and exposing errors in thought or in theory, 
his genial and humane humor, his playful sallies of wit, his kindly 
sympathy with youth and childhood, his gentle yet impressive moni- 
tory hints, and occasional grave reflections, give him an indescribable 
power over his audience ; while the perfect simplicity and strictly 
elementary character of his instructions evince the depths to which he 
has penetrated, in tracing the profoundest philosophy of teaching. 
Nor is his success limited to the single department which, in the 
sessions of the institutes, falls nominally under his special care. His 
wide and comprehensive views embrace the whole field of education, 
and all its prominent subjects. The remark was justly made by the 
Hon. Horace Mann, that it was well worth any young teacher's while 
to walk ten miles to hear a lecture of Dr. Mason ; for in it he would 
hear a most instructive exposition of the true principles of all teaching, 
as well as that of instruction in music. 

In 1855, the University of New York recognized the value of Dr. 
Mason's laboi-s in his more immediate professional sphere, by confer- 
ring on him the honorary degree of Doctor in Music ; — the first 
instance of such a degree being conferred by an American university ; 
and Dr. Mason being the first American who ever received such an 
honor from any quarter. 

Dr. Mason owes his high reputation at home and abroad to the fact 
that he has pursued his long and arduous career as a teacher, not merely 
with an unparalled success, which has justly raised him to eminence, but 
on broad and generous principles elevated far above all barely technical 
or mechanical skill, displayed in mere flexibility of voice or dexterity 
of finger. It is as an enlightened educator, who distinctly perceives 
and eloquently pleads for the value and the power of music, as an 
influence on human culture, that he stands prominently before his 
country as one of its noble benefactors. And most assuredly he has 
already reaped a large share of that reward of grateful feeling which 
future generations will yet more fully express, as the children in our 
common schools, and the worshipers in our churches, continue to 
repeat the strains of chaste melody and skillful harmony for which our 
whole community stands so deeply indebted to the labors of his daily 

The services which he has rendered to the cause of educa- 
tion, in his instructive methods of developing the elements of all 


culture, as Well as of music, are deeply appreciated by the multitude 
of young teachers who have enjoyed the privilege of listening to his 
skillful expositions of theory and practice, in all their relations to the 
daily duties of the teacher's life. The method which he has pursued 
for the last twenty-five years has been of signal service in drawing out, 
to a degree unknown before, the proper distinction existing in the 
generic vocal principle of speech and song, and the relation which the 
two-fold form sustains to itself, in its component elements. He has 
been peculiarly successful in inculcating the beauty of a finished 
articulation in song, and that of true expression in the tones of 
emotion. While occupied with the claims of 5owwc/, however, he has 
always recognized those of number and /orm, as correlatives in the 
processes of culture. lie has never pleaded the cause of music exclu- 
sively, but always set it forth in its happy influence on all other 
departments of mental discipline and development. 

Dr. Mason's influence, through his published works, not less than 
his personal instructions, has been in the highest degree conducive to 
the cultivation of 2>urity of taste^ as an important element not only 
in the aesthetic relations of musical art, but in all those of high, moral 
culture and true elevation of character. The judgment and care with 
which, in this relation, his selections of school songs have been com- 
piled, are beyond praise. lie has furnished, in those unpretending 
little volumes, a treasury of the best simple melodies of many lands, 
as these have been presented by eminent masters who have conde- 
scended, (or rather risen,) to meet the heart of childhood in its thirst 
for song ; and these beautiful strains of music he has accompanied 
with words which speak of nature, of life, and of God, in the purest 
forms of sentiment. To feel the full value of his labors in this de- 
partment, we have but to glance, for a moment, at the low and 
degrading character of too many of our popular, and even our school 
songs. The noble office and mission of music, as an intended refiner 
and purifier of the heart. Dr. Mason has never overlooked. Well has 
he said, 

"We fear that it is too often the case that music in school is 
regarded not as having any thing to do with study, but as a mere 
recreation or amusement. Valuable as it may be, even in this view, 
we feel certain that, when introduced into schools, music should be 
made a study, not only in itself considered, but as a correlative to all 
school pursuits, and occupations. Unless the pupils are made more 
cheerful, happy, kind, and studious, by the music lesson, it is not 
properly given ; for these are some of the results which music was 
obviously designed to secure." 



George B. Emerson, tlie first principal of the first English High 
School established in this country, and for more than thirty years the 
head of the best school for girls in Boston, Massachusetts, was born 
on the 12th of September, 1797, in what is now Kennebunk, York 
County, Maine, then a part of the town of Wells. His father was 
Samuel Emerson, M. D., a gentleman who, in the midst of his pro- 
fessional occupations, always took great interest in the schools of the 
town, and used his influence in sustaining them at a high point of 
excellence. Dr. Emerson was a good scholar, and retained through 
life his early fondness for the Latin and English classics, and his 
familiarity with them. His son, George B. Emei-son, attended the 
schools of the town during the winter half of the year, but in the 
summer occupied himself busily, but not severely, with the health- 
giving labors of the farm and the garden. The advantages of such 
an early life, both mentally and physically, can hardly be overesti- 
mated. They were fully enjoyed by young Emerson, who then formed 
a habit of steady, vigorous labor, and a love of employment, which have 
never deserted him, and which, added to abihties of a high order, have 
enabled him to accomplish so much for the good of society. These 
early habits also inspired him with a love for botany and other 
branches of natural history, which has been of immense benefit to 
him as a teacher, a source of perpetual interest and exalting pleasure, 
and of healthy recreation. In 1812, he enjoyed, for six months, the 
instruction of Benjamin Allen, L. L. D., the able master of Dummer 
Academy, at Byfield, where he learned the elements of the Latin and 
Greek grammars very thoroughly. His remaining preparation for 
college was made at home, under the care of his father, and he en- 
tered Harvard University in 1813. In 1817, he took the degree of 
Bachelor of Arts. 

The winter vacation at Cambridge, in those days, was seven weeks 
long. It is now six, and it was the usage then, as now, for young 
men, who desired to add something to their means of meeting college 
charges, to teach winter schools in the country, taking four or five 
weeks out of the term, and so lengthening the period of their absence 
to ten or twelve weeks. Mr. Emerson began the great task of his life 
by teaching, in the winter of 1813-14, a school in one of the districts 


of his native town. During a part of the vacation of the following 
winter, he taught, as a substitute for another, a school in Saco, Maine. 
The members of this school were mostly the children of people em- 
ployed in the saw-mills, on Saco river, at tbat time a rude, intem- 
perate, and violent class of men. Mr. Emerson had an opportunity 
of seeing here the worst form of school-keeping ; a form which, happily, 
can hardly be" said to exist at the present day. It was considered 
manly to resist the lawful authority of the teacher, as this savage 
feeling was encouraged and applauded by the degraded parents. The 
previous winter, the master of the school had been seized by the 
larger boys — in those days appropriately designated the Old Boys — 
was dragged from the school-house, and made to ride upon a rail ; 
the favorite mode, in that region and at that time, of celebrating a 
victory of insurgent puj)ils over their teacher. Mr. Emerson was then 
a tall, slender youth of seventeen ; but he did not hesitate to run the 
liazards of accepting the office of master, and endeavoring to govern 
this unruly body of youths, many of whom were older than himself, 
and, like all such desperados, large, strongly built, and of powerful 
muscular development. The means to Avhich he trusted for gaining 
the mastery over these rude and untaught spirits, were disinterested- 
ness and purity of purpose, and that moral courage which, in the 
long run, always carries the day over brute force. Nor did he mis- 
calculate the etlicacy of these principles of school government. His 
influence over the school strengthened every day, but the labors and 
trials of his position were exhausting and severe — quite too much so 
for his age and physical powers. He was relieved, however, from 
them, before the school period terminated, by the accidental burning 
down of the ruinous building in which the school was kept. 

The next winter, Mr. Emerson's health had suffered so much by 
overtasking his energies, and neglecting the laws of health — which 
few students in those days knew any tjjing about, and which were not 
taught in any department of the university — that he was unable to 
teach. He had passed many months without a reasonable amount 
of sleep, exercise, air, and recreation ; and nature never permits her 
sacred laws to be disobeyed with impunity. He was paying the 
penalty which she invariably exacts. 

In the winter of 1816-17, Mr. Emerson taught a school, for ten 
weeks, at Bolton, Mass. The moral tone and intellectual character 
of the people of this pleasant town were unusually high. This su- 
periority was due, in no small measure, to the influence of the excel- 
lent Mr. Allen, for many years the minister of the town. Mr. Allen 
was one of the most honest and conscientious men that ever lived. 



He was dear-headed and simple-hearted ; eminently kind and social 
in his feelings ; hospitable to the stranger, and ever welcome to young 
and old. He was naturally a humorist, and this natural tendency 
was, perhaps, increased by the circumstance that ho remained un- 
married. He was fond of the fields, and prided himself on the ex- 
cellence of his orchard. The casual visitor at his house was sure of 
hearty welcome ; and a plate of the most tempting apples, with 
another of the delicious " dough-nuts " of Lucy, the old gentleman's 
excellent housekeeper, was invariably placed before him. Mr. Allen 
would have been a favorite of the Spectator. He was thoroughly 
devoted to his people's highest good, and they repaid him with a 
warmth of fervent aflection, not always witnessed in the relation be- 
tween parish and minister in these latter days. Among the objects 
of his constant care, none stood higher than the schools. He always 
attended the examinations, and took a formal part in putting ques- 
tions to the scholars ; and his kindly countenance and genial man- 
ners, on these occasions, were delightful both to master and scholar. 
He was always on the side of the master who desired to do his duty, 
and from him the anxious and weary teacher received the kindest 
and wisest counsel, and the most efficient support. Under these cir- 
cumstances, it is not surprising that the schools of Bolton were favor- 
able specimens of New England common schools, nor that an un- 
usually large proportion of the men and women educated in them, 
have proved to be useful and prominent members of society. 

In tho autumn of 1817, after leaving college, Mr. Emerson took 
charge of a small private academy, in Lancaster, Mass. His con- 
stitution, naturf^lly good, and strengthened by the out-door employ- 
ments of his early life, had been much broken by excessive and untimely 
study. His eyes were in such a condition that his physician forbade 
the use of them, except in cases of extreme necessity ; and his lungs 
and nervous system were seriously affected. The labors of the school 
were exhausting, and the number of the scholars increased rapidly 
from about twenty to over fifty, many of them being entirely under 
Mr, Emerson's charge, out of school as well as in. But he was sur- 
rounded by kind and intelligent friends ; the society of the place was 
cultivated and cordial ; and he received, from all quarters, that sym- 
pathy, co-operation, and support that are most cheering to the heart 
of the faithful teacher. His principles of discipline and government 
at that time, however, were widely at variance with those which 
further experience, and a profound insight into the human heart, 
led him afterward to adopt. He relied upon the strong arm, and 
the excitement of emulation by prizes, medals, and distinction, all of 


•whicli he subsequently rejected and but very seldom resorted to. 
Many teachers, still, would hesitate to adopt the system to which 
Mr. Emerson's moral judgment finally gave an unhesitating preference 
and approval. The question is not yet fully decided ; but it may 
safely be asserted, that if all teachers had the intellectual accomplish- 
ments, and the weight of personal influence, which distinguish him 
pre-eminently, there would be no doubt left that the system which 
employs only lofty and disinterested motives in the training of the 
young, would infinitely exalt the style and spirit of education, both 
public and private. 

In 1819, Mr. Emerson was invited to accept the office of tutor in 
the mathematical department of Harvard Univei-sity, under the late 
Professor John Farrar, and he afterward performed, for a short time, 
the duties of Greek tutor. The leisure of a college tutorship, con- 
trasted with the unintermitted labors of the preceding two years of 
teaching, seemed to Mr. Emerson like a long and pleasant vacation. 
He was associated with the ablest men in the literary class of that 
time. It was in the glorious academic days, when the good Dr. 
Kirkland had surrounded himself with a brilliant circle of professors. 
The genial and gracious Farrar lectured with the most attractive elo- 
quence on physics and astronomy ; Everett, in the early flush of his 
manly genius, and his vast learning, expounded the beauties and splen- 
dors of Greek literature, and gave rich promise of what he was des- 
tined to become; the elegant, accomplished, conscientious Frisbie, 
who had taught the Latin language and literature, with the 
enthusiasm of genuine scholarship, now devoted himself with 
equal ardor to the department of moral philosophy and natural the- 
ology; these eminent men, and others scarcely less distinguished, 
made the academic society, to which Mr. Emerson was now admitted, 
brilliant, excitino:, and instructive in the hii>:hest den^ree. No wonder 
that his mind received a strong impulse, and that his tastes for elegant 
letters and a life of devotion to intellectual pursuits were confirmed. 

Mr. Emerson now had the opportunity he desired of reviewing the 
experience of the previous years, and re-examining the principles upon 
which influence and discipline, in the working of a high system of 
education, should be grounded ; and our young tutor, now only two 
and twenty years of age, came to the conclusion, that the use of the 
ferule or the rod in school, except in extreme cases of obstinate re- 
sistence to authority, should never be resorted to ; that only ignor- 
ance, or stupidity, or insensibility, proved the use of such a coarse 
and degrading method of government habitually necessary ; and that 
the excitement of emulation, though sanctioned by the authority of 



Cicero and QuintilHan, is contrary to some of the clearest principles 
of the Gospel, and he resolved should an opportunity occur, in 
his future career as a teacher, to appeal, in the discipline of a school, 
to a different and higher set of motives than those which were uni- 
versally resorted to. 

In 1821, the desired opportunity presented itself. The English 
High School for boys, then called the English Classical School, was 
established that year by the town of Boston, for the purpose of furnish- 
ing a better intellectual preparation for the duties of Hfe to the youth 
of the town who were not intended for a college course. Of 
this school, Mr. Emerson was chosen principal, with authority to de- 
termine the course and methods of instruction and discipline ; and he 
soon satisfied himself that the sentiment of honor, to which he ap- 
pealed, was not only in itself a higher motive of conduct, but that it 
was, just in that proportion, a more effective means of influence with 
the boys than the fear of punishment. He endeavored to check, so 
far as he could, the feeling of emulation ; believing that it is always 
strong enough without artificial excitement ; and he addressed him- 
self to the conscience and the principle of duty, the desire of making 
a good preparation for the duties of life, and the pleasure of acquiring 
knowledge and of exercising the intellectual faculties. 

While Mr. Emerson was connected with the High or Classical School, 
he had the good fortune to assist in bringing to perfection, and produc- 
ing before the world, the most valuable school-book which has appeared 
in our age — the Mental Arithmetic of his fi'iend, the late Warren Col- 
burn. Mr. Colburn, as he prepared the book, submitted it daily, lesson by 
lesson, to the test of practice in a private school for boys, which he 
was then teaching. He proposed to Mr. Emerson to send him the 
manuscript as it was written, and that the lessons should be given to 
the classes in Mr. Emerson's school, the pupils of which were more 
numerous and advanced than his own. The ^^ First Lesbvns^^ were 
thus submitted, lesson by lesson, by another teacher, to the same test 
which he was himself applying. Very few changes were suggested, 
beyond a little amplification in some of the sections. The whole ad- 
mirable work existed complete in the mind of the author. It had 
grown out of his thoughts, and was perfected by his experiments. 
But it was a great advantage to Mr. Colburn to have the hearty co- 
operation and the practical judgment of so able a teacher as Mr. 
Emerson, and one so earnestly engaged in making improvements in 
the methods of education ; %nd the first pubHc exhibition of its effect 
upon the powers of the learner was indeed a grateful triumph to the 
modest and ingenious author. y 


In 1823, Mr. Emerson gave up the Classical School, with 
great reluctance, and opened a strictly private school for girls. 
The result showed, however, the wisdom of the change. A most 
interesting and important field of labor was opened, and the 
excellent influence of this admirable school, in enlarging and 
elevating the system of female education, has long been felt, and its 
effects will never cease, in the character of the society of Boston, and 
the wide extent of the social relations of the capital. Mr. Emerson, 
while deliberating upon the questions that had been pressed upon 
him, consulted a dignified and excellent lady, Mrs. Eliot, who had 
always taken a warm interest in his career. Without hesitation, she 
advised him to become a teacher of girls, and " to do all in his power 
to show them how to go there " — pointing up toward Heaven ; and 
this advice, thus strikingly enforced, had great influence in determin- 
ing Mr. Emerson's course. In the spirit of this christian counsel, Mr. 
Emerson always addressed his pupils as immortal beings, preparing 
for life in this world, and a higher life to come, and grounded his 
authority as a teacher upon the authority of Jesus Christ. His con- 
stant aim was, first of all, to fill the heart of the pupils with reverence 
for the laws of God, whether revealed in the Scriptures or discovered 
by reason ; next, to form habits of self-control, punctuality, and order, 
and to establish a profound sense of accountability to God for the 
proper use of all the talents with which He had been pleased to en- 
dow them. Again, he led them to cultivate the kindly feelings, and 
those courteous manners, which belong to the character of the high- 
bred gentlewoman. He aimed to make them good scholars, not so 
much for the sake of scholarship, strictly so called, as for the effects 
of literary culture upon the taste, the refinement, and the elevation of 
the mind and character of woman. As to the subjects taught, it was 
the earnest purpose of Mr. Emerson to fill the minds of his pupils 
with that kind of knowledge which should enable them to perform, 
nobly, all the duties to which a woman may be called — the duties of 
her social position, the duties that devolve upon her as wife and 
mother, and which relate to the physical, mental, and spiritual nature 
of those intrusted to her forming care — not neglecting such studies 
as should supply her with resources for pure and elevated enjoyment 
in solitude. Such were the lofty aims and motives with which Mr. 
Emerson entered upon the great and sacred task which lay before 
him in his new career. The community is now reaping the rich fruits 
of his long, conscientious, and most successful devotion to this exalted 
duty — the great labor of his life. He continued in the work until 1855 
— a period of more than a quarter of a century, during every year of which 


more pupils were offered him, on Lis own terms, than he coulj 

Besides his direct labors as a teacher, Mr. Emerson's talents have 
been devoted to other, but kindred objects, with remarkable efficiency. 
In 1827 the Mechanic's Institution was formed for the purpose of ex- 
citing a taste for science, as connected with the mechanic arts, 
and of elevating the tone of thought and inquiry among the young 
men in that city. Dr. Nathaniel Bowditch was first president of the 
society, and Mr. Emerson was first corresponding secretary, and was 
chosen to give the opening address. No lectures were given during 
the first year. In the second, Daniel Webster gave the introductory 
discourse, and Mr. Emerson gave the first course of lectures ; six lec- 
tures upon elementary mechanics. So great was the favor with 
which this first attempt to give popular and scientific instruction by 
means of lectures was received, that no hall could be found large 
enough to contain the persons who applied for tickets, and the intro- 
ductory discourse and all the lectures of this winter were repeated to 
crowded audiences. Mr. Emerson was afterward often invited to de^ 
liver these lectures, or others, before the lyceuras of the neighboring 
towns. But he felt that all his time was no more than sufficient to 
prepare for the instruction to be given in his own school, and he uni- 
formly declined the invitations. 

In 1830, the American Institute of Instruction was formed by teach- 
ers and friends of education. Mr. Emerson took an active part in its 
formation and in all its operations, was its first secretary, and afterward, 
for many years, its president. The meetings of the Institute were 
held wherever it was thought they would have the best effect, or 
where the most urgent invitations were given by the inhabitants. 
At these meetings, the condition of the common schools, as well as 
of all others, was a constant subject of consideration ; and, in 1836, 
a memorial was presented to the Legislature of Massachusetts, drawn 
up by Mr. Emerson, as chairman of a committee appointed for that